ADA Title II

The ADA has five sections or "titles" that address different areas of the law. Title II of the ADA addresses public entities such as state and local governments. Title II of the ADA protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in accessing services, programs or activities.

Overview of requirements

This regulation covers all public entities on the local, state or federal level. All activities, services and programs of public entities must adhere to the following requirements under Title II:

  • May not refuse to allow a person to participate in a service, program, or activity simply because the person has a disability
    (For example, a city may not refuse to allow a person with epilepsy to use parks and recreational facilities.)
  • Must provide programs and services in an integrated setting, unless separate or different measures are necessary to ensure equal opportunity
  • Must eliminate unnecessary eligibility standards or rules that deny individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy their services, programs or activities unless necessary for the provisions of the service, program or activity
  • Must admit guide dogs and other service animals assisting individuals with disabilities
  • Must furnish auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication, unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration would result
  • May provide special benefits, beyond those required by the regulation, to individuals with disabilities
  • May not place special charges on individuals with disabilities to cover the costs of measures necessary to ensure nondiscriminatory treatment, such as making modifications required to provide program accessibility or providing qualified interpreters
  • Shall operate their programs so that, when viewed in their entirety, they are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities

Qualifications for individuals

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides comprehensive civil rights protections for "qualified individuals with disabilities."

An "individual with a disability" is a person who 

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a "major life activity,"
  • has a record of such an impairment, or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

Examples of physical or mental impairments include, but are not limited to, such contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction and alcoholism. Homosexuality and bisexuality are not physical or mental impairments under the ADA.

"Major life activities" include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

Individuals who currently engage in the illegal use of drugs are not protected by the ADA when an action is taken on the basis of their current illegal use of drugs.


Title II Highlights from the Department of Justice