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What Is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that was passed in 1990. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.*

*“Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace,” ADA National Network, June 2020

What are reasonable accommodations in the workplace? Learn More About Accommodations in the Workplace

Equal Employment Opportunity

It unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee with a disability. It is your right to request reasonable accommodations that are needed to fulfill required job duties. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website addresses common questions about how the ADA protects applicants with disabilities, including information on disclosure and discrimination.

How does the ADA protect applicants with disabilities? Learn More About Job Applicants and the ADA

Disclosure in the Workplace

Job seekers with a disability may find themselves struggling with the questions: "Should I or shouldn't I disclose my disability?" “When is an appropriate time for disclosure?” This decision may also be influenced depending upon whether you have a visible disability or a non-visible disability. Ultimately, the decision of whether to disclose is entirely up to you.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy not only helps answer these questions, but also clarifies why disclosure might be necessary, how to disclose details regarding your disability, what and to whom to disclose, and protections and responsibilities to be aware of.

Why might disclosure be needed? Learn About Disclosure in the Workplace


All employees must be able to perform the essential job duties required for a position, with or without accommodations. It is wise to consider what accommodations or tools may be needed to function in the work environment prior to being hired. Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform essential job duties. Depending on the nature of your disability, it is up to you when and if you choose disclosure.

Where can I find up-to-date guidance about workplace accommodations? Visit the Job Accommodation Network