Knowing Your Rights
Laws and regulations provide guidance and clarification about what must be provided and what is not acceptable when providing support services. A number of Federal laws address accessibility and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. These laws cover access to a wide range of facilities and services, including housing, transportation, employment, telecommunications and voting.
If you feel your concerns and those of your support system have gone unheard, you can file a complaint about your treatment to The Office of Civil Rights. Click here find instructions on how to do this.
Knowing one's rights under the laws, or complying with their requirements, means getting the right information from the proper source. Learn to use these laws as your minimum level of protection.
Under the ADA, employers must do the following:
- Make existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities
- Restructure job, modify work schedules and/or reassign to a vacant position when needed
- Acquire or modify equipment or devices, provide accomodations for examinations, adjust training materials or policies and provide qualified translaters/interpreters
Individuals with disabilities have an equal right to access high-quality, affordable healthcare that meets the specific needs of the individual and includes mental health services. Check out our section dedicated to health services.
The Federal law protects the rights of housing for people with disabilities. 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. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities may include financing, zoning practices, new construction design and advertising.
The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (However, the landlord is not required to pay for these changes.) The Act further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver and other adaptable features within the units.