Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, no state or local government entity may discriminate on the basis of disability in its programs, services or activities. In addition to that general prohibition, state and local government entities must assure that all of their programs and services, when viewed in their entirety, are accessible. Put another way, every program must be accessible, although not every facility must be accessible.
This means, for example, that court proceedings and public meetings must be held in places that are accessible to people with mobility impairments. Auxiliary aids and services — such as sign language interpreters and TTY machines — must be provided to ensure effective communication. People with visual impairments must be provided materials and information in a format useable to them.
Title II applies to any programs, service or activity conducted by the city, country or state government agencies. All government activities are covered, including the courts, police departments, schools, public housing authorities and social services agencies. Also, if the government contracts with a private entity, then that delegate agency must also comply with Title II of the ADA (and will also have Title II obligations).
Transportation services provided by either city, county or state government must be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
City, county or state governments that provide transportation services must also provide alternatives to individuals who cannot use fixed route services, such as public buses, because of a disability or other serious health condition.
These alternative forms of public transportation, such as Portland’s Tri-Met LIFT system, must provide services comparable to fixed route systems.
Beginning in 1990, newly purchased and leased bus and rail vehicles must be fully accessible. Additionally, new bus and rail facilities must be accessible. Under the ADA, new vehicles purchased for rail transportation must be accessible. One car per train must be accessible. Key rail stations generally must be accessible, but some stations have an exemption from coverage of the law until as late as 2020. All Amtrak stations must be accessible by the year 2010. Air travel is not covered under the ADA; instead, the Air Carrier Access Act governs certain air travel carriers.
Legal editor: Legal editor: Lana Traynor Hayes, January 2014