How the ADA Affects Public Schools
As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all public buildings, including schools, must comply with certain accessibility standards to ensure people with disabilities are not prevented from using their premises to their fullest extent.
The ADA doesn’t have any specific rules or requirements for special education, but it has definitely had an impact on the educational world.
Students who do not qualify for special education services can still be protected by the ADA. As long as the student meets the criteria laid out in the ADA’s definition of who is a person with a disability, he or she would be protected by the regulations in the ADA from discrimination. According to the ADA, a person could be categorized as disabled if he or she:
- Has a mental or physical impairment that significantly limits at least one major life activity
- Has a track record of such an impairment
- Is regarded as having that type of impairment
The ADA also protects parents with disabilities, as parents must have access to schools for parent-teacher conferences, school plays, graduation, athletic events, concerts and more.
With all this in mind, public schools are expected to comply with the ADA as they are classified as a “public entity” under Title II of the act. These Title II public entities must provide program access in an integrated setting, unless it is necessary to have separate programs to ensure equal services and benefits. Program access according to Title II means all school districts must operate their programs in a way that makes them entirely accessible and usable by people who have disabilities.
Schools can make certain structural improvements to existing buildings, such as installing elevators or ramps, to achieve accessibility with their programs. However, they do not necessarily need to achieve structural accessibility if there are alternatives of achieving access, such as providing services at a site that is accessible, moving a class to a different room or having staff retrieve books for teachers or students who are wheelchair bound.
But in general, you want to make sure your building is up to code to meet as many ADA standards as possible.
At Erie Custom Signs, we can help you accomplish that by creating custom ADA compliant signs to place throughout your school. Contact us today for more information about the kinds of signs we can develop and how they’ll help you achieve compliance.