What law governs the civil rights of people with disabilities?
The most important federal law that governs the civil rights of the disabled is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990. This law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in a variety of areas, including (according to the federal ADA website) "employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities." Essentially, it extended many of the protections of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 to people with disabilities. It added to the equally important Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in federal programs. Section 504 of this law is familiar in schools everywhere, as it requires that programs or institutions receiving federal money (like most schools) provide "reasonable accommodation" to ensure people with identified disabilities receive equal access to the benefits of the program. These laws, which are enforced by a broad array of federal agencies, are the most important in protecting the civil rights of those with disabilities.