ADA Technical Assistance Program
The ADA requires the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to businesses, State and local governments, and individuals with rights or responsibilities under the law. The Department provides education and technical assistance through a variety of means to encourage voluntary compliance. Activities include providing direct technical assistance and guidance to the public through this ADA Website and the ADA Information Line, developing and disseminating technical assistance materials to the public, and undertaking outreach initiatives.
ADA Information Line
The Department of Justice operates a toll-free ADA Information Line to provide information and publications to the public about the requirements of the ADA. Automated service, which allows callers to order publications by mail, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ADA specialists, who can assist callers in understanding how the ADA applies to their situation, are available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and on Thursday from 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Foreign language service is also available. To get answers to technical questions, obtain general ADA information, order free ADA materials, or ask about filing a complaint, please call: 800-514-0301 (voice)
ADA Publications and Documents
Copies of the Department’s ADA regulations and technical assistance publications can be obtained by calling the ADA Information Line, finding them on this website, or writing to the address listed below. All materials are available in standard print as well as large print, Braille, or electronically for people with disabilities. Some publications are available in foreign languages.
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
Spanish language documents can be accessed through the ADA Website (www.ada.gov/publicat_spanish.htm).
Through lawsuits and settlement agreements, the Department of Justice has achieved greater access for individuals with disabilities in hundreds of cases. Under general rules governing lawsuits brought by the Federal government, the Department of Justice may not sue a party unless negotiations to settle the dispute have failed.
The Department of Justice may file lawsuits in federal court to enforce the ADA, and courts may order compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination if the Department prevails. Under title III, the Department of Justice may also obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation.
The ADA requires that the Department write regulations for implementing titles II and III. The regulations for both titles were first published on July 26, 1991. Revised regulations were published on September 15, 2010, and took effect on March 15, 2011.
The ADA also requires the U.S. Access Board (Access Board) to ‘‘issue minimum guidelines that shall supplement the existing Minimum Guidelines and Requirements for Accessible Design for purposes of subchapters II and III of this chapter . . . to ensure that buildings, facilities, rail passenger cars, and vehicles are accessible, in terms of architecture and design, transportation, and communication, to individuals with disabilities.’’ The ADA requires the Department to issue regulations that include enforceable accessibility standards applicable to facilities subject to title II or title III that are consistent with the ‘‘minimum guidelines’’ issued by the Access Board.
Proposed ADA Regulations by the Department of Justice
ADA requirements may change as regulations are modified to improve access or to provide more detailed guidance for entities covered by the ADA. When new requirements are proposed, a formal procedure is used which calls for public comment and agency review before the requirement is finalized. Changes in existing requirements or new requirements are first issued as a proposed rule and published in the Federal Register. Public comments, which are received by mail and over the Internet, are reviewed by the Department before a proposed Final Rule is published. When the Final Rule is published, new requirements are established as detailed in the Final Rule. For information on any new or proposed Department of Justice ADA regulations contact the ADA Information Line.
ADA Certification of State and Local Accessibility Requirements
Newly Constructed and Altered Buildings and Facilities
The ADA specifically recognizes the importance of eliminating structural and architectural barriers by requiring all new or altered facilities subject to the ADA to be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. Covered entities must comply with the Department's ADA regulations, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
Facilities that must comply with the ADA Standards may also be required to comply with accessibility requirements established under state or local laws. There are thousands of jurisdictions in the United States that adopt or enforce building codes, some of which also include accessibility requirements. Although many state codes are based on national models, there can be significant variations among the state and local code requirements. Design and construction under state and local codes complies with the ADA only when the codes provide accessibility that equals or exceeds the ADA requirements. When these laws are inconsistent, the burden falls on building owners and design professionals to ensure compliance with both federal and state laws.
The enforcement of state codes is the responsibility of state or local officials – usually through plan reviews and building inspections. The ADA relies on the traditional method of civil rights enforcement through litigation in federal courts. Local officials do not have the authority to enforce the ADA on behalf of the federal government.
In an effort both to facilitate compliance with all applicable laws and to mitigate the tension between federal and state enforcement processes, the ADA authorizes the Department of Justice, upon request of state or local officials, to certify that state or local accessibility laws meet or exceed the requirements of the ADA. Certification bridges the gap between the federal and state enforcement processes. The certification process neither delegates ADA enforcement authority to the states nor eliminates an individual's right to seek relief through the federal courts. However, effective enforcement of a certified code can mitigate the need for federal enforcement by ensuring that new or altered buildings are accessible. This process gives building owners and design professionals some assurance in advance of construction that the ADA requirements will be satisfied. And, if a lawsuit is filed, compliance with a certified code may be offered as rebuttable evidence of compliance with the ADA.
ADA Mediation Program
In enacting the ADA, Congress specifically encouraged the use of alternative means of dispute resolution, including mediation, to resolve ADA disputes. Through its ADA Mediation Program, the Department refers appropriate ADA disputes to mediators at no cost to the parties. The mediators in the Department of Justice program are professional mediators who have been trained in the legal requirements of the ADA. The Department's program has already resolved many ADA disputes quickly and effectively.
What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal process where an impartial third party helps disputing parties to find mutually satisfactory solutions to their differences. Mediation can resolve disputes quickly and satisfactorily, without the expense and delay of formal investigation and litigation.
Mediation proceedings are confidential and voluntary for all parties. Mediation typically involves one or more meetings between the disputing parties and the mediator. It may also involve one or more confidential sessions between individual parties and the mediator.
Representation by an attorney is permitted, but not required, in mediation. While mediators may not give legal advice or interpret the law, they will refer parties to impartial outside experts within the disability and legal communities when questions or issues needing clarification arise.
A successful mediation results in a binding agreement between the parties. If mediation is unsuccessful and an agreement cannot be reached, parties may still pursue all legal remedies provided under the ADA, including private lawsuits.
Complaints under both title II (public entities) and title III (private entities) can be mediated. Disputes involving barrier removal or program accessibility, modification of policies, and effective communication are most appropriate for mediation.
To work to resolve an ADA dispute through the Department's program, simply follow the usual procedure for filing a complaint with the Department and note on the complaint that you want to take your dispute to mediation. While the Department cannot guarantee that everyone who wants mediation will be able to participate in the program, it will make every effort to comply with requests for mediation.