Disability Rights Section Responsibilities

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The Section implements the Department of Justice's enforcement responsibilities under titles I, II, and III of the ADA. The Section's responsibilities are somewhat different under each title of the ADA. Under title I (employment), the Section is the only government entity with authority to initiate litigation against State and local government employers. Under titles II (State and local government) and III (private businesses and non-profit social service providers), the Section investigates complaints and conducts compliance reviews. The Section may initiate litigation in title II matters arising from its own investigations or upon referral from other Federal agencies. The Section may also intervene in ongoing title II suits brought by private parties. Under title III, the Section initiates litigation in cases involving private entities (public accommodations, commercial facilities, and certain professional certification and licensing entities) where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination or discrimination involving an issue of general public importance.

The ADA specifically encourages the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, including mediation, to resolve disputes arising under the ADA. Since 1994, the Section has promoted the use of ADR by supporting a project to provide mediation services to resolve ADA complaints filed with the Section. Information about this program is in the quarterly Status Report and in the mediation section of the ADA Home Page.

ADA Certification of State and Local Accessibility Requirements

The Section responds to requests for certification from State and local governments that their accessibility requirements for newly constructed and altered buildings and facilities meet or exceed the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Authorized by section 308 of the ADA, certification preserves the traditional role of State and local officials in the implementation of building-related regulations, while at the same time furthering the Federal objective of ensuring more uniform levels of accessibility for citizens with disabilities nationwide. Once a State or local accessibility code is certified as equivalent to the ADA Standards, local inspections by building code officials can improve compliance with the ADA through the enforcement of certified code requirements. A more detailed discussion of the importance of obtaining an ADA certification of equivalency and the certification process is available on the ADA Home Page under ADA Certification of State and Local Accessibility Requirements.

Regulations and Coordination

The Section develops regulations for the enforcement of under Titles II and III of the ADA. Under the title II regulation (28 C.F.R. § 35.190 (a)) and Executive Order 12250, the Section also coordinates Federal enforcement of Title II of the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and other Federal statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs that receive Federal financial assistance.

The Section also coordinates ADA technical assistance government-wide for example, by chairing an ADA Technical Assistance Coordinating Committee, and by conducting legal and technical reviews of materials developed by other agencies.

In addition, the Section represents the Attorney General in his statutory role as a member of the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board). In this capacity, the Section not only participates in the continued development of ADA accessibility guidelines for entities subject to the Department's regulations, but also participates in the development of ADA guidelines for accessible transportation and guidelines applicable to Federal buildings under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).

Technical Assistance

The Technical Assistance Program, which is mandated under section 506 of the ADA, promotes voluntary compliance with the ADA by providing free information and assistance to businesses, State and local governments, people with disabilities, and the general public.

The Section operates a toll-free ADA Information Line that receives over 100,000 calls a year. The ADA Information Line staff answer questions about the ADA during business hours and are primarily responsible for meeting the Section's obligation under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 to answer ADA inquiries by small businesses.

Through its technical assistance program, the Section also develops and disseminates ADA publications; provides ADA training at meetings nationwide; and conducts outreach to broad and targeted audiences that have included mayors, local chambers of commerce, and millions of businesses. The Section produces a range of technical assistance documents, including Technical Assistance Manuals with updates; "ADA-TA", a technical assistance series aimed at businesses, State and local governments, and architects, "The ADA Guide for Small Businesses", and other documents explaining efficient ways to comply with the ADA; question-and-answer publications addressing specific topics; and other materials. Through outreach and dissemination activitis, the Section reaches more than 7 million people each year.

The technical assistance program develops and maintains the Section's ADA website including the ADA Home Page , which provides access to the ADA statute, regulations (including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design), enforcement information including settlements and consent decrees, and notice of new regulations and proposed regulations. This site has all of the Section's technical assistance material available for viewing or downloading. The ADA Home Page also provides links to search for Department of Justice press releases and for ADA information, policy letters, and other information available through the Division's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) electronic reading room.

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Back to Disability Rights Section Home Page

Updated August 6, 2015

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