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Federal Laws, Regulation and Executive Orders

Guide to Laws, Federal Regulation or Executive Orders Covering Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress.

  • Title I: Requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For example, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant's disability before a job offer is made, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship.
  • Title II (State / Local Government): Covers all activities of State and local governments regardless of the government entity's size or receipt of Federal funding. Title II requires that State and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities (e.g. public education, employment, transportation, recreation, health care, social services, courts, voting, and town meetings).
  • Title II (Public Transportation): Covers public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (e.g. subways, commuter rails, Amtrak). Public transportation authorities may not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their services. They must comply with requirements for accessibility in newly purchased vehicles, make good faith efforts to purchase or lease accessible used buses, remanufacture buses in an accessible manner, and, unless it would result in an undue burden, provide paratransit where they operate fixed-route bus or rail systems. Paratransit is a service where individuals who are unable to use the regular transit system independently (because of a physical or mental impairment) are picked up and dropped off at their destinations. 
  • Title III: Covers businesses and nonprofit service providers that are public accommodations, privately operated entities offering certain types of courses and examinations, privately operated transportation, and commercial facilities. Public accommodations are private entities who own, lease, lease to, or operate facilities such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctors' offices, homeless shelters, transportation depots, zoos, funeral homes, day care centers, and recreation facilities including sports stadiums and fitness clubs. Transportation services provided by private entities are also covered by title III.
  • Title IV: Addresses telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires common carriers (telephone companies) to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services (TRS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS enables callers with hearing and speech disabilities who use TTYs (also known as TDDs), and callers who use voice telephones to communicate with each other through a third party communications assistant. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set minimum standards for TRS services. Title IV also requires closed captioning of Federally funded public service announcements.

Information listed above copied from: http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm#anchor62335


Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors. The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • Section 501: Requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment by Federal agencies of the executive branch.
  • Section 503: Requires affirmative action and prohibits employment discrimination by Federal government contractors and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000.
  • Section 504: "No qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the United States Postal Service.
  • Section 508: Establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. Section 508 requires Federal electronic information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public. For more information, please visit http://www.access-board.gov or http://www.section508.gov
Information listed above copied from:  http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm#anchor65610


Telecommunications Act: Section 255 and Section 251(a)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, require manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. These amendments ensure that people with disabilities will have access to a broad range of products and services such as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call-waiting, and operator services, that were often inaccessible to many users with disabilities.

Information listed above copied from: http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm#anchor63109

Executive Orders

  • 13548: Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities
  • 13163: Calls for Federal agencies to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities employed at all levels and occupations in the Federal Government
  • 13164: Provision on Reasonable Accommodation

For additional information, please check the following sources: 

  • Reasonable Accommodation - Federal agencies are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified employees with disabilities.  For example, if you need Sign Language Interpreters or Video Phones, you should follow the Reasonable Accommodation process at your agency.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that if you are a Federal employee and if you want to file a complaint.  The first step is to contact an EEO Counselor at the agency where you work or where you applied for a job. Generally, you must contact the EEO Counselor within 45 days from the day the discrimination occurred.  For more information about the process, visit the Overview of Federal Sector EEO Complaint Process.
  • Department of Justice: The Disabilities Rights Section handles the enforcement, certification, regulatory, coordination, and technical assistance activities, required by the ADA, combined with an innovative mediation program and a technical assistance grant program, provide a cost-effective and dynamic approach for carrying out the ADA's mandates. The Section also carries out responsibilities under Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, and Executive Order 12250.

Disclaimer: DIG is providing information on this website as a public service.  Sometimes the laws change.  We cannot promise that this information is always kept up to date and correct.  We do not intend this information to be legal advice.  By providing this information, we are not acting as your lawyer.  If you need legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

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