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Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services

IPAS > Equal Access > Overview Overview

Equal access rights ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to programs, services, buildings and housing. Continual barriers confronting individuals with disabilities include physical inaccessibility to governmental and public places; medical providers' reluctance to provide accommodations in the provision of their services or outright denial of all types of services due to lack of awareness of disability issues and the laws in place that protect equal access rights.

Because of equal access rights, people with disabilities have the following available to them:

  • Freedom from discrimination on the basis of disability in seeking or keeping housing that is affordable, appropriate and accessible
  • Where public transportation is provided, it must be safe, reliable, affordable and accessible
  • Physical environments that are adjusted for inclusiveness and accessibility
  • Work, volunteer and education opportunities
  • Access to key health and support services
  • Access to civic, cultural, social and recreational activities


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 - 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 U.S. Congress.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a person who has a history or record of such an impairment; or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered. View the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

This site serves as a comprehensive, online archive of documents and history related to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). Here you can find the text of the law, legislative history, congressional hearings, Supreme Court cases, federal regulations, policy and advocacy documents and additional information related to the passage of the original ADA and the ADAAA.


Revised regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect on March 15, 2011. The regulations apply to the activities of more than 80,000 units of state and local government and more than seven million places of public accommodation, including stores, restaurants, museums, sporting arenas, movie theaters, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, hotels, jails and prisons, polling places and emergency preparedness shelters. For more information visit Link to Title II regulations: Link to Title III regulations:

Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies, in programs receiving federal financial assistance, in federal employment, and in the employment practices of federal contractors. The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. View the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 - Requires all polling places to be accessible and mandates that polling places offer at least one voting machine allowing voters with disabilities, including those with visual impairments, to cast their ballots privately and independently. View the Help America Vote Act.

Fair Housing Act - As amended in 1988, the Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives federal financial assistance, and state and local government housing. View the Fair Housing Act.

Architectural Barriers Act - The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) requires that buildings and facilities that are designed, constructed, or altered with federal funds, or leased by a federal agency, comply with federal standards for physical accessibility. ABA requirements are limited to architectural standards in new and altered buildings and in newly leased facilities. They do not address the activities conducted in those buildings and facilities. View the Architectural Barriers Act.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - Formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment suitable to their individual needs. View the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Assistive Technology Act of 1998 - The purpose of this act is to provide states with financial assistance that supports programs designed to maximize the ability of individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates and authorized representatives, to obtain assistive technology devices and assistive technology services. View the Assistive Technology Act of 1998.



Rosa's Law - Rosa's law replaces the term "mentally retarded" with "an individual with an intellectual disability" and "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability," where applicable in federal statutes. Rosa's Law does not alter eligibility of services nor lead to a diminution of rights for these individuals.

Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 - It will update current law to increase access to interne, television and telecommunications technologies using such tools as closed captioning and video description and will help improve delivery of emergency information during disaster or crisis to ensure no person with a disability is without the necessary information.

Other Regulations and Standards

The Disability Law Handbook is written in FAQ format and answers questions about the ADA, the ADA Amendments Act, the Rehabilitation Act, Social Security, the Air Carrier Access Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Fair Housing Act Amendments. Free copies may be downloaded or viewed at for the Spanish version and for the English version.

ADA Accessibility Guidelines

ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities

Standards for Accessible Design

A Guide to Disability Rights Laws