Civil Rights

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Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (Title 49, Section 41705 of the U.S. Code) prohibits commercial airliners from discriminating against passengers with disabilities. This only applies to air carriers that provide regularly scheduled services for the public, including access to airport facilities.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Passed in 1990, amended in 2008, and revised in 2011, the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title 42, Chapter 126 of the U.S. Code) prohibits discrimination, and gives equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, government services at the state and federal levels, public accommodations, commercial locations and public transit.

Architectural Barriers Act

Enacted in 1968, the Architectural Barriers Act (codified in 42 U.S.C., Subsection 4151) requires facilities using Federal funds to cover its design, construction, alteration, or leases to be accessible to the public through the use of uniform design, construction and alteration standards. The United States Access Board oversees the enforcement of the act on the national level.

21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-260) is an updating of the federal communications law to align with modern technology and to ensure the access of individuals with disabilities to modern technology. The Act brings accessibility laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s into the present age, while also covering new innovations such as broadband services and mobile technologies.

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

Enacted in 1980, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act serves to protect those who are in state or locally operated institutions. This Act permits the U.S. Attorney General to investigate conditions of confinement at state and local government institutions, such as correctional facilities, detention centers, publicly operated nursing homes, and psychiatric or developmental disabilities-oriented institutions. The Act permits the Attorney General to discover and correct any widespread or repeated deficiencies or failures that may threat or seriously jeopardize the health and safety of the residents at the institutions. The Attorney General however does not have the authority under this Act to investigate isolated incidents, nor represent individual persons under institutionalization.

Fair Housing Act

Amended in 1988, the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601-3619) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status and national origin in housing. The Act covers private housing, any housing that receives financial assistance from the Federal government, and state/local government housing. The Act also covers all aspects of housing rentals/sales, as well as related areas such as financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertisements.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Reauthorized in 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (104 U.S.C. 1142) ensures that students with disabilities are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education, which is designed to meet their specific, individual needs. The Act’s ultimate goal is to provide students with disabilities the same opportunities and access for education as other students.

National Voter Registration Act

Also known as the Motor Voter Act, the National Voter Registration Act (52 U.S.C. Subsections 20501 to 20511) expands voting rights for Americans by requiring state governments to offer opportunities for voter registration for any eligible applicant for driver’s licenses or public assistance. This Act also requires state governments to register applicants who use a federal voter registration form to apply, and also prohibits the states from removing register voters from the voting rolls except in specific circumstances.

Rehabilitation Act

Passed in 1973, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Subsection 701) extends the authorization of grants to States for vocational rehabilitation services, with a focus on serving those with disabilities. This Act also extends the responsibility of the Federal government to research and develop programs with respect to individuals with disabilities, and expands the responsibilities of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in coordinating these programs. The Act also requires non-discriminatory and affirmative actions in employment by Federal agencies within the executive branch, as well as Federal contractors/subcontractors. Finally, the Act also ensures the civil rights of individuals with disabilities to access accommodations and be afforded opportunities for access at locations or agencies with Federal funding, both physically and on the Internet.

Telecommunications Act

Section 255 and Section 251(a)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, require manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. These amendments ensure that people with disabilities will have access to a broad range of products and services such as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call-waiting, and operator services, which were often inaccessible to many users with disabilities.

Telecommunications Relay Services

The Telecommunications Relay Services (47 U.S.C. Subsection 225) is a part of Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (revised 2011). This subsection of the Americans with Disabilities Act covers telecommunications services for individuals who have hearing loss and/or speech disabilities, and assigns responsibility of ensuring access to the nationwide telecommunications network system to the Federal Communications Commission.

Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (Pub. L. 98-435) requires that polling places across the United States be physically accessible to individuals with disabilities and/or at an advanced age for federal elections.