Goverment and Law Enforcement

Public entities are required to comply with the ADA. This includes state and local governments. People with disabilities are entitled to all of the rights, privileges, advantages, and opportunities that others have when participating in civic activities. There also may be special obligations for third-parties who are administering services on behalf of the government.

Public entities are also prohibited from adopting a “separate but equal” mentality that denies participation in one program because another is available for a specific group. In other words, programs, activities, and services must be provided to people with disabilities in integrated settings. Even policies that appear to be neutral may require modification. Whether a modification is reasonable or not will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For example, a neutral policy prohibiting animals in a hospital would be reasonably modified for the cafeteria, but permitting service animals in the operating room would not necessarily be considered reasonable because of the potential risk to patients.

Public entities may be required to supply auxiliary aids and services, including materials in accessible formats, including with sign language interpretation in certain contexts (examples include during court hearings). Public entities are required to give primary consideration to the type of auxiliary aid or service requested by the person with the disability. They must honor that choice, unless they can demonstrate that another equally effective means of communication is available or that the aid or service requested would fundamentally alter the nature of the program, service, or activity or would result in undue financial and administrative burdens.

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The law requires state and local governments to treat people with disabilities fairly. This includes many interactions, such as questioning by law enforcement, voting, public council meetings, recreational programing, and many more. Fairness may require changing rules or requirements so communication can be clear and access can be available. It may also require providing services such as ASL interpreters.