Fact Sheet

ADA Compliance and Safety Issues

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act covers “public entities.” Public entities are defined as any state or local government and any of it departments, agencies, or other instrumentalities. All activities, services, and programs of public entities are covered, including activities of state legislatures and courts, town meetings, police and fire departments, motor vehicle licensing, and employment. Title II extends to all the activities of state and local governments whether or not they receive federal funds.

Public transportation services operated by the state and local governments are covered by regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation. DOT’s regulations establish specific requirements for transportation vehicles and facilities, including a requirement that all new buses must be equipped to provide services to people who use wheelchairs.


State and local governments must ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities.

Where necessary to ensure that communications with individuals with hearing, vision or speech impairments are as effective as communications with others, the public entity must provide appropriate auxiliary aids.

“Auxiliary aids” include such services or devices as qualified interpreters, assistive listening headsets, television captioning and decoders, telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDDs), videotest displays, readers, taped texts, materials in Braille and large print materials.

Public entities are not required to provide auxiliary aids that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, activity or undue financial and administrative burdens. However, public entities must still furnish another auxiliary aid, if available, that does not result in a fundamental alteration or undue burden.

New Construction and Alterations

Public entities must ensure that newly constructed buildings and facilities are free of architectural and communication barriers that restrict access of use by individuals with disabilities.

When a public entity makes alterations to a building, it must ensure that the altered portions are accessible.

The ADA does not required retrofitting existing buildings to eliminate barriers, but does establish a high standard of accessibility for new buildings.

Public entities may choose between two technical standards for accessible design:

  1. The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standard (UFAS),
  2. The Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines.

The elevator exemption for small buildings allowed in #2 would not apply to public entities covered by title II.


When considering the ADA in light of workplace safety, consider the safety of the employee who is a qualified individual with disabilities under the ADA, as well as the safety of his or her co-workers. For instance, hallways whose width barely allows passage of a wheelchair or a person with crutches will definitely not permit a non-disabled co-worker going in the opposite direction to pass safely. Or consider the disabled employee who in trying to comply with hand-washing regulations but is unable to turn the faucet on to get water or reach the soap dispenser.

Inexpensive Solutions

Easy steps that can be done without much difficulty or expense include ramping one step; installing a bathroom grab bar; lowering a paper towel dispenser; rearranging furniture to allow movement in between and around; installing offset hinges to widen a doorway; or painting new lines to create an accessible parking space. Accommodation can also include providing safety information in large-print format or in Braille.

Technical Assistance

The ADA requires that federal agencies responsible for issuing ADA regulations provide “technical assistance.”

The ADA Homepage offers materials targeted to State and Local Governments. Scroll down the right-hand column and click on whichever document you choose to reach or print out.
The material in this document was extracted from Title II Highlights.


28 CFR Part 35, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services, Final Rule, Americans With Disabilities Publication

ADA Compliance and Safety Issues Checklist

The ADA and City Governments: Common Problems, U.S. Department of Labor, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, Americans With Disabilities Publication

ADA Home Page

ADA Information Line

ADA Questions and Answers
A 31-page booklet giving an overview of the ADA’s requirements for ensuring equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation, and requiring the establishment of TDD/telephone relay services. Americans With Disabilities Publication

ADA Regulation for Title II, as printed in the Federal Register (7/26/91). The Department of Justice’s regulation implementing title II, subtitle A, of the ADA which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all services, programs, and activities provided to the public by state and local governments, except public transportation services. Click here for access to full document, 28 CFR Part 35.

ADA Standards for Accessible Designs, Americans With Disabilities Publication

A Guide to Disability Rights Laws, Americans With Disabilities Publication

The Americans With Disabilities Act, Checklist for Readily Achievable Barrier Removal, Adaptive Environments Center, Inc. and Barrier Free Environments, Inc., 1995, Americans With Disabilities Publication

The Americans With Disabilities Act, Title II Technical Assistance Manual, Covering State and Local Government Programs and Services, Americans With Disabilities Publication

Myths and Facts About The Americans With Disabilities Act, Americans With Disabilities Publication

Public Law 101-336. Text of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Public Law 336 of the 101st Congress, enacted July 26, 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in … State and local government services….

Readily Achievable Barrier Removal and Van-accessible Parking, Americans With Disabilities Act, Americans With Disabilities Publication