Equal Opportunity & Diversity Office

The Americans with Disabilities Act: Questions & Answers

1.What is the ADA?
2. Who is covered under the ADA?
3. What support programs and services exist at the UMass Amherst Campus?


1. What is the ADA?

The Americans With Disability Act is a federal civil rights law enacted on July 26, 1990. It is intended to protect qualified persons with disabilities from discrimination in employment, government services and programs, transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications. The ADA supplements and complements other federal and state laws which protect persons with disabilities

2. Who is covered under the ADA?

A "disability" is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A person is considered disabled if the person has such a physical or mental impairment, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. "Disability" covers a wide range of conditions and includes mobility, vision, hearing, or speech impairments, learning disabilities, chronic health conditions, emotional illnesses, AIDS, HIV positive, and a history of alcoholism or prior substance abuse.

3. What support programs and services exist at the UMass Amherst Campus for persons with disabilities?

There are several on-campus programs which provide support and advocacy for students with disabilities. The specific program that one would contact would depend on the nature of the disability; the programs most directly involved with students are listed as follows:

Disability Services:

Disability Services (www.umass.edu/disability), a component of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, works to ensure that reasonable and effective accommodations and support services are in place for those members of the University Community who have a documented disability. A disability which qualifies under the ADA such as ADD/ADHD, Blind or visually impaired, Deaf or hard of hearing, learning disabilities, medical, mobility, physical, psychological, or another chronic condition as defined, by the Americans with Disabilities Act. To determine appropriate accommodations, enrolled students and employees of the University who self-disclose a disability must provide diagnostic evidence of the disability from a professional who is qualified by education and training to make such an evaluation.

Disability Services is located in 161 Whitmore Administration Bldg., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003. Telephone: (413) 545-0892.

Assistive Technologies Center:

The Assistive Technologies Center, is a collaboration of Office of Information Technologies (OIT), Disability Services and the UMass Libraries. The ATC's goal is to provide integration of assistive technology services to the UMass Amherst community. The ATC located on the main (reference) floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, one floor below the entrance floor. The Assistive Technologies Center (ATC) offers technology services to any member of the University community with an ADA-defined disability. To use ATC services, you must register with Disability Services and hold an active OIT Account.

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