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Libraries and Accessibility: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

According to ADA.gov, the “Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- the ADA is an "equal opportunity" law for people with disabilities.”

  • Title II of the law applies to municipal and state-funded libraries.
  • Title III of the law applies to businesses and non-profits, including association libraries.

Tips for Libraries on ADA

  • A newly constructed library building must meet all of the physical access requirements of the ADA Access Guidelines (ADAAG).
  • A library being remodeled must have the part being altered accessible to the maximum extent feasible according to ADAAGs.
  • If an existing library cannot be made accessible, then it must provide service in an alternative manner.
  • In addition to requirements of section 4 of ADA, design of public libraries must comply with section 8 (specifications for libraries).
  • State and local governments must operate services, programs, and activities so when viewed in its entirety, are readily accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Standards for Public Libraries

According to the North Dakota Coordinating Council's (NDLCC) Standards for Public Libraries, all public libraries in the state must have a building that meets ADA Accessibility Guidelines in order to be eligible to receive Library Vision Grants.

According to the National Disability Authority, “Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design. If an environment is accessible, usable, convenient and a pleasure to use, everyone benefits. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of all throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services and environments that meet peoples' needs. Simply put, universal design is good design.”

By integrating concepts of Universal Design into your library, you can ensure that buildings and services can be used by the broadest number of people.