Americans with Disabilities Act

Since 2010 states and local governments have been waiting for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue regulations requiring them to increase website, equipment and furniture, and 9-1-1 accessibility for persons with disabilities. The wait is over; the regulations are no longer in the works (for now).

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits states and local governments from discriminating on the basis of disability in “all services, programs, and activities provided to the public.”

In 2010 DOJ issued three Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking indicating its desire to issue regulations regarding accessibility of state and local government websites and non-fixed equipment and furniture and use of Next Generation 9-1-1. While DOJ has been silent on the latter two issues since 2010, in 2016 it issued a supplemental advance notice regarding website accessibility

As of December 26, 2016, DOJ has withdrawn all four Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking while it evaluates whether promulgating regulations is “necessary and appropriate.” 

In Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools the Supreme Court held unanimously that if a student’s complaint against a school seeks relief for a denial of a free appropriate public education it must first be brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), instead of under other statutes that might also be violated.

Napoleon Community Schools prohibited a kindergartener with cerebral palsy from bringing a service dog to school. The district noted the student had a one-on-one human aid who was able to provide the same assistance as the dog.

In Texas, state law requires most people under age 25 to attend a state-licensed private driver education school to obtain a driver’s license. None of the schools accommodate deaf students. So a number of deaf students sued the Texas Education Agency (TEA) arguing it was required to bring the driver education schools into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).    

In Ivy v. Morath the Supreme Court was supposed to decide when state and local governments are responsible for ensuring that a private actor complies with the ADA. The Court dismissed the case concluding it was moot most likely because Texas claimed that four of the students suing completed the driver education course and one moved out of state.

In Ivy v. Morath the Supreme Court will decide when state and local governments are responsible for ensuring that a private actor complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues they should be responsible when the private actor may fairly be said to be implementing a service, program, or activity of the public entity itself.

In Texas, state law requires most people under age 25 to attend a state-licensed private driver education school to obtain a driver’s license. None of the schools would accommodate deaf students. So a number of deaf students sued the Texas Education Agency (TEA) arguing it was required to bring the driver education schools into compliance with the ADA.  

As President Obama welcomed activists from across the country to the White House to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), similar scenes played out in state capitols across the country with governors and state legislative leaders marking this important anniversary. However, for the 54 million Americans living with a disability, the future of the programs and services they depend on to live, learn, and earn is deeply tied to a host of tough budget choices and Byzantine program requirements faced by policymakers in the state house as well as the White House.

Pages