Though the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed on July 26, 1990, many employers, state and local government agencies and private businesses remain unaware of their compliance obligations. Also, almost 24 years after the ADA became law, many people with disabilities are not aware of specific protections against discrimination.

Five common ADA violations are mentioned below.

  • Insufficient facility access
  • No assistance with pumping gasoline
  • Differential workplace treatment following disability disclosure
  • Refusing to permit service dogs
  • Strollers occupying wheelchair designated spots on public transit

Many people have not considered basics that enable people with mobility disabilities to access public buildings. Clear wide paths without stairs permit most persons to enter and maneuver inside buildings. An "accessible route" is at least three feet wide and is not blocked by furniture or other items.

Doorways can be barriers for people who have mobility disabilities. Accessible doorways must be at least 32” wide. 34” wide is helpful to those who use mobility devices, such as walkers and wheelchairs.

Heavy doors present another challenge to individuals who have limited upper body strength or hand dexterity.  Adequate clear space permits people with mobility disabilities to open the door, enter through the doorway and close the door. Doors that close quickly do not permit all persons to enter safely.

Traditional doorknobs are not accessible.  Accessible door hardware must be operable with one hand, without tight grasping and twisting to turn.  Though automatic doors can provide greater accessibility, they are not required by the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Some people with disabilities are unable to operate a gasoline pump. The ADA requires businesses with more than one employee on duty to provide fueling assistance without a fee when requested by an individual with a disability.  Posting signage for those requiring refueling assistance is helpful.

ADA Title I applies to private employers with fifteen or more employees and all state and local government employers.  Some employers incorrectly assume that they are required to hire

unqualified applicants who disclose disabilities. The ADA considers an applicant or employee to be qualified if he or she possesses the required skills, experience and education for the position, and can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

The ADA requires equal employment opportunities for all applicants and employees. Therefore employers are not required to provide preferential treatment to applicants and employees who disclose disabilities. All applicants and employees should be held to the same production and performance standards. Applicants and employees with disabilities should never be evaluated

on a lower standard or disciplined differently than any employee who does not have disabilities.


Where pets are prohibited, service animals must be permitted access wherever the public is allowed. Businesses unknowingly violate the law when they request identifying factors such as a vest or certification papers to confirm that a dog accompanying a person with a disability is indeed a service animal.


The ADA specifies that though people can be asked if the dog is a service animal required because of a disability, inquiring about the nature of extent of an individual’s disability violates the law. The only other question that is permissible is what task or tasks the dog is individually trained to perform that are directly related to the person’s disabilities.


Service animals cannot be denied access because others have allergies and or fear dogs. Distance can be placed between those individuals and persons who use service animals.


Spots where there are no seats near the front of public transportation are intended to be used by individuals who use wheelchairs. Though people frequently place strollers in those designated spots, those spots must be relinquished whenever needed by riders who use wheelchairs.


ADA text, Standards for Accessible Design, technical assistance materials and enforcement information can be viewed on Other helpful links for publications, information and resources include and

Over the past four decades, Disability Educator and Sign Language Instructor Cindy Powell has advised businesses, employers, government agencies and nonprofits about best practices with people with disabilities.


Cindy provides customized training on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), tax incentives and other helpful topics, such as disability etiquette and service animals. Ms. Powell also provides customized sign language training.


Cindy has served on local, state and national disability organization Boards of Directors. Ms. Powell was recipient of International Association of Workforce Professionals' 2006 Services to Specialized Populations award. Cindy’s disability articles appear in print and online.

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