ADA 31 Years Old

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA supports the rights and opportunities of individuals with disabilities to live their lives fully and without compromise.

What kind of law is the ADA?

The ADA is a comprehensive civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government programs, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

What is the definition of disability under the ADA? Picture of Hard of Hearing Sign Language

It is important to remember that in the context of the ADA, "disability" is a legal term rather than a medical one.

Because it has a legal definition, the ADA's definition of disability is different from how disability is defined under some other laws. 

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes people with a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability.

What are major life activities?

Disability ActivitiesMajor life activities are those functions that are important to most people's daily lives. Major life activities include breathing, walking, talking, hearing, seeing, sleeping, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, and working. Major life activities also include major bodily functions such as immune system functions, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.



The Southwest ADA Center is a program of ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas. The Center is funded by a grant (H133A110027) from the Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). NIDRR is not an enforcement agency. The information herein is intended solely as informal guidance. It is neither a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) nor binding on any agency with enforcement responsibility under the ADA and other disability-related laws. Contact Us:  Southwest ADA Center  800-949-4232 or 713-520-0232 v/tty    
Southwest ADA Center