Knowing your legal rights and being able to advocate for yourself are important skills for everyone but especially for people with hearing loss. Here is a brief overview of the two major U.S. laws designed to ensure equal access to education and opportunities.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals against discrimination in many areas of their lives. The ADA outlines five areas (“titles”) in which people with disabilities have legal rights: employment, public services, public accommodations, telecommunications and other miscellaneous provisions.
ADA Title I: Employment
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.
ADA Title II: State and Local Government Activities
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).The transportation provisions of Title II cover public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (e.g., subways, commuter rails, Amtrak).
ADA Title III: Public Accommodations
“Public accommodations” include facilities such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, retail stores, etc., as well as privately-owned transportation systems.
Title III requires that all new construction and modifications must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. For existing facilities, barriers to services must be removed if readily achievable.
ADA Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services
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.
ADA Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions
Title V contains multiple additional laws and acts adopted through the years to further strengthen ADA.
For more information about ADA, visit https://www.ada.gov/
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees the right to a free and appropriate public education to infants, children and teens with disabilities (ages birth to 21 or until achieving a high school diploma) in the least restrictive environment appropriate. The law specifies how schools must provide or deny services and how parents can approach school districts, as well as challenge school district recommendations. IDEA includes three parts: Part A, which outlines general provisions; Part B, which outlines provisions for school-aged children (ages 3 to 21), including the Individualized Education Program (IEP); and Part C, which provides for early intervention services for children ages birth to 3.
For more information about IDEA, visit http://idea.ed.gov/.