The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, grew out of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, however discrimination against people with disabilities was not addressed until 1973 when Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 became law; it was later passed by George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.
Since then, advocacy groups representing millions of Americans and people around the world, who are prevented from equal access both in the physical and digital world, have fought to make the world more inclusive and guarantee the rights of individuals under the law.
ADA Title II
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a regulation which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public entities – state or local government and any of their departments, agencies, or other instrumentalities. The Federal Government is not considered a public entity and is covered under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Learn more about ADA Title II on the ADA website.
ADA Title III
ADA Title III is a Regulation which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (business' that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed by the ADA – see "Learn More" below), and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation – as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings) – to comply with the ADA Standards. Today, these places of public accommodation include the Internet.
Learn more about ADA Title III on the ADA website.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is an anti-discrimination law which requires federally funded programs to provide certain accommodations to people with disabilities. Because public schools receive substantial federal financial assistance, they are required to follow this law and comply with Section 504 and 508 standards.
Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance and set the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 protects children and adults with disabilities from exclusion, and unequal treatment in schools, jobs, and the community.
Section 508 was added in 1998 to keep up with the increasing use of the Internet in public institutions. Section 508 applies to the Federal government but there may be implications for employees and others at the State level. Many states have also passed legislation requiring Electronic and Information Technology (EIT), also known as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WACG) 2.0 are globally recognized voluntary consensus standards for web content and information and communication technology (ICT).
Learn more about WCAG 2.0 on the W3C website.