The laws that have been passed to protect the rights of people with disabilities and to limit discrimination include:
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
For instance, prior to the Education for Children with Handicaps Act of 1974, now part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), many children with mental retardation did not have the option of attending public school. Many children had to leave their families and live in public and private institutions because there were no other support services available for parents.
The IDEA requires public schools to provide children with disabilities a free education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs. If parents disagree with the proposed individual education plan they can request a hearing and a review from the State educational agency. They can appeal the State agency?s decision to the State or Federal court. For more information, contact:
Office of Special Education Programs
(202) 205-5507 (voice/TTY)
The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors. Section 501 requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment by Federal agencies of the executive branch.
Section 503 requires affirmative action and prohibits employment discrimination by Federal government contractors and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000.
Section 504 states that ?no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under? any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance or is under Executive branch. For information on how to file 504 complaints with the appropriate agency, contact:
U.S. Department of Justice
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities. For more information on Section 508, contact:
U.S. General Services Administration
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability that limits one or more major life activities. Title I of the act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. Title I requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to physical or mental limitations.
Title I complaints must be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charges are filed with a designated State or local fair employment agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in Federal court only after they receive a ?right-to-sue? letter from the EEOC. To find the EEOC in your area contact:
(800) 669-4000 (voice)