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Withdrawn Technical Assistance: Title II Highlights (revised in 2008)

The Department of Justice has withdrawn and, where applicable, removed from ADA.gov, this technical assistance document. This document is outdated and does not fully reflect current law or has been replaced by a more up-to-date document. Withdrawal of a guidance document does not change covered entities' legal responsibilities, as reflected in the ADA, its implementing regulations, and other binding legal requirements and judicial precedent. The Department will continue to fully and fairly enforce all laws within its jurisdiction, including the ADA.

III. "Qualified Individuals with Disabilities"

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides comprehensive civil rights protections for "qualified individuals with disabilities."

An "individual with a disability" is a person who --

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a "major life activity", or

  • Has a record of such an impairment, or

  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

Examples of physical or mental impairments include, but are not limited to, such contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism. Homosexuality and bisexuality are not physical or mental impairments under the ADA.

"Major life activities" include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Individuals who currently engage in the illegal use of drugs are not protected by the ADA when an action is taken on the basis of their current illegal use of drugs.

"Qualified" individuals.

  • A "qualified" individual with a disability is one who meets the essential eligibility reqirements [sic] for the program or activity offered by a public entity.

    ​The "essential eligibility requirements" will depend on the type of service or activity involved.

    • For some activities, such as State licensing programs, the ability to meet specific skill and performance requirements may be "essential."

    • For other activities, such as where the public entity provides information to anyone who requests it, the "essential eligibility requirements" would be minimal.


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