Americans with Disabilities Act PDF Print E-mail

Americans with Disabilities Act:

The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress.

ADA Title II states: No qualified individual shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity. (From Section 201, as set forth in 42 U.S.C. 12132 (2004)).

Title II prohibits discrimination by public housing authorities and other state and local government housing. Prohibits architectural barriers to Housing Authority offices; failure to modify discriminatory policies; failure to provide effective communication (e.g., interpreters, written material in alternative formats). lWhen viewed in its entirety, the program or service must be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

Title III applies to Businesses.It does not apply to regular privately owned residential dwelling units. However, it does apply to residences that are also public accommodations such as nursing homes and school dorms. In addition, parts of residential facilities that serve a group of people or the public might be considered public accommodations such as a swimming pool or a sales and leasing office. Title III prohibits: architectural barriers to rental and sales offices; failure to modify discriminatory policies; failure to provide effective communication (e.g., interpreters, written material in alternative formats).

How to file a complaint under ADA if you feel you have been discriminated against:

  • You may file a complaint in federal court using private attorney. Attorney fees recoverable.
  • You may file a complaint with the US Department of Justice. You may also file complaint alleging FHA complaint, with HUD.
  • If you think you have been discriminated against by a Public Housing Authority, you may file an ADA complaint with HUD. May also file a complaint under the Rehab Act (504) with the federal funding agency.

Olmstead Supreme Court Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C.,  that under Title II of the ADA, states are required to provide community-based treatment for persons with mental disabilities when such placement is appropriate, not opposed by the affected person and can be reasonably accommodated with the State's resources. Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999). This case law means that the ADA may be used to require states to offer community based housing to persons who are in institutions.

                          See also:  Justice Department Settlement Agreement with Georgia in 2010.

                        Department of Justice Technical Assistance Guide on Olmstead Requirements.

                        Sample Olmstead Complaint from Disability Advocates, Inc. v. Paterson


Filing an Olmstead Complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice:

While consulting with an attorney can be very helpful, you don't need an attorney to file your own complaint. You can file an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint, including any complaint alleging Olmstead violations, alleging disability discrimination against a State or local government or a public accommodation by mail or email. To learn more about filing an ADA complaint, visit

To file an ADA complaint you may fill out this form and mail or fax the form to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
You may also file a complaint by E-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

If you have questions about filing an ADA complaint, please call:
ADA Information Line: 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY).



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Information provided by the National Supportive Housing Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.