August 21, 2019

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Disability Law

At law, a disability is a mental or physical condition that limits your ability to participate in “major life activities” (impairment). Disability includes psychiatric and psychosocial disorders as well as some chronic diseases.

Disability law specifically provides that people who are or have been disabled (and in some cases those who care for them) are entitled to equal treatment with regard to work, school, transportation and in public places. Disability discrimination claims must be made within a very short time-frame, so if you are disabled and have been discriminated against (treated differently than a non-disabled person) you should consult a Disability Law Attorney in order to determine and protect your rights.

View qualified Disability Law Firms in your area to find Disability Lawyers to get help with this process.

If you have recently become disabled, you may be entitled to benefits under Social Security Disability (see Social Security). If you have recently become disabled at or because of your employment, you may be entitled to other benefits as well (see Workers Compensation).

Protecting Your Rights

There are state and federal laws that protect the rights of disabled persons in the following settings:

  • Employment
  • Government services
  • Public accommodations
  • Telecommunications

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the prevailing legislature that protects the rights of the disabled and enforces related civil codes and ordinances. More information can be found at


Generally, a disabled person may not be discriminated against when engaging in the following activities related to work:

  • Applying
  • Hiring
  • Promoting
  • Firing
  • Training

The prohibition applies to employers and groups that arrange employment, but not all of them. Many small businesses would not be covered by these anti-discrimination laws. However, if the law applies to you and your employer, it is required to make reasonable accommodations, including adapting your work schedule and providing additional equipment to assist you.

Government Services

All government agencies (public entities) must ensure that the disabled have physical access to their buildings and services, as well as other assistance so that they may use the government services, such as:

  • Education (schools must make the buildings accessible and provide assistance to the learning disabled)
  • Public transportation (special services must be made available to those who cannot use regular public transportation – paratransit)
  • Government buildings and offices (must be accessible)

Public Accommodations

A public accommodation is a place that is open to the public; typical examples include:

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Stores
  • Private transportation (like cabs and private buses)
  • Private education and daycare providers

These operations must generally ensure that disabled persons may access their services, although a business is not required to bankrupt itself to ensure that access. Service pets (such as seeing-eye dogs) must be allowed as well.


Particularly for the blind and hearing-impaired, companies that provide telecommunications services have to make those accessible, such as:

  • Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)
  • Video Relay Services
  • Teletypewriters

Related areas:

Civil Rights Law, Social Security, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Law), Workers Compensation