In an effort to keep abreast of the latest ADA-related settlement agreements and news stories, I have set up a Google Alert to notify me of news stories, websites, social media mentions and other content that may be of interest. Many of the search results are from newspapers and news stations which have published articles about the ADA. Other information comes from bloggers or social media accounts. While I can’t spend my entire day monitoring every piece of content that is out there, I do try to read a few each day.
And, holy moly! I have been astounded by the amount of content out there that is incorrect or gives misleading information about the ADA.
For example, just this week, I came across a blog about service animals that indicated that a services animal will “be given documentation as well as special tag numbers and vests so that their purpose is clear to others.” This is 100% NOT accurate! In fact, no where in the law does it say that service animals are to be registered or certified. Additionally, they don’t need a special vest or harness.
Another newspaper article says, “To be in compliance with the American’s Disabilities Act a sidewalk must be at least 32-inches wide.” Again, this information is incorrect. The ADA guideline requires that an accessible route have a minimum of 36-inches of clear width. PROWAG guidelines, although not currently enforceable, are what many DOT entities are requiring as a best practice. PROWAG guidelines require public sidewalks to be 48-inches wide. And, local codes may vary.
Here’s a tweet from this week: “Different states have different things considered disability so in one state you might be covered under the Americans with disabilities act and others not. PTSD may be covered but not depression. Common disabilities like chronic migraine may not be included. Know your rights.” The ADA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. The law does not vary from state to state. If a person fits this definition, they are always covered by the ADA.
In today’s world, when we have a question, many of us go to the internet for answers. We are inundated with news media and information – written, on the radio and tv, from podcasts and social media. Information is coming at us in every format imaginable. And, too often, we take that information as valid.
As you read or hear information online about the ADA, I hope that you will remember that not everything that is in print is factual. Take the time to understand the law so you can decipher the facts from the fiction. And, as always, when you have a question, contact us! The Rocky Mountain ADA Center is here to help sort it all out. We will do our research and we will deliver the facts. Our main priority is to help answer questions about the ADA.