Eight Proven Rules
Phillips, Marilynn, Solas, Gregory, The Exceptional Parent
1 Know your laws. Your state almost certainly has a barrier removal law. Find out what it says. Your state will also have a human rights law. Check to see if it prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
The federal Fair Housing Act now allows you to rent or buy any house or apartment you want. You may have to make your own access modifications, but you must be allowed to; if a landlord or realtor refuses, it's illegal.
The Americans with Disabilities Act forbids discrimination by employers of 15 or more employees; by state and local government services; by places of public accommodation; by public transportation systems and telecommunications services. Churches and programs run by churches are exempt.
2 Read the regulations. This is essential to understand what's required. Final regulations ("rules") from the Department of Justice outline specifically what must be done by "public accommodations" to serve you. Included in these rules are design guidelines to be followed to ensure access. Department of Justice rules are available from the Office on the ADA, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Box 66118, Washington, D.C. 20035-6118, (202) 514-0301 or 514-0381/0383 (TDD). Operating hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.
The rules also come in large print, Braille, audio tape and on electronic disk. You can also download them from the Department of Justice's computer bulletin board at (202) 514-6193.
Don't be afraid of legal language. Once you've read the rules a couple of times, you will find they're easier to understand. If your local independent living center isn't doing a training session on understanding these rules, get them to contact one of the national groups, who are giving trainings, to offer one in your community -- and go. Ask questions.
3 Believe you have a right. This is the most important thing you can do. Still, you must do your homework. You should know the law and the regulations as they pertain to your situation -- this also involves knowing which agency enforces the law, and how to follow the complaint process.
4 Become organized; learn to document your work. …