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ADA 101 - ADA Glossary - Legal and Practical Terms N-Z

Obvious Disability: A common disability, or one with some aspect visible to the human eye (e.g. Deafness, Blindness, Physical Disabilities)

Paratransit: Paratransit service is door to door service required by the ADA for individuals with disabilities who are unable to travel by fixed route public transit service. For this reason, it operates at similar times and in similar areas to fixed route service (defined by the ADA as a minimum of three-quarters of a mile on either side of an existing bus or rail stop) of existing public fixed route transit.  DC paratransit service is called Metro Access.

Path of Travel: When building a new construction or renovating a building in a way that affects its primary use, Agencies must ensure that the path of travel to the new or altered area is accessible to people with disabilities.  An accessible path of travel also requires accessible common use areas such as restrooms or drinking fountains.

Pre-Employment Process: The hiring process, pre-offer (including application, interviews, and any pre-offer screening requirements.

Program Access: Individuals must be allowed access to government programs and services for which they qualify, even if those programs are located in an inaccessible building.  Program accessibility is viewed in its entirety by the ADA, taking into account physical accessibility as well as the accessibility of program materials.

Qualified Individual: Under ADA Title I (Employment) an individual is qualified for a particular job if he/she possesses the skills, experience and education requisite for the position.  Under ADA Title II (Accessible Government), an individual is qualified for a particular program, service or activity if he/she meets the required eligibility criteria.

Record of a Disability: Having a record of a disability means that an individual either has a history of physical and/or mental impairment(s) or of being misclassified as having physical and/or mental impairment(s).

Regarded as having a Disability: Anyone subjected to discrimination because of a real or perceived disability is covered as an individual “regarded as having a disability” under the ADA.  Individuals regarded by others as persons having a disability are not entitled to reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable Accommodation: Any change or adjustment to the job, the work environment or the way work is customarily done which permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to perform the essential functions. (A reasonable accommodation is anything necessary to help this employee with this disability do this job.)

Reasonable Modification: An Agency must reasonably modify any policy, practice or procedure when necessary to enable people with disabilities to participate in a program, activity, or service.  (A reasonable modification can be anything that makes it possible for this person with this disability to participate in this function).

Service Animal: Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. (A miniature horse may also function as a service animal, where appropriate to the environment and the task).

SLI: The acronym SLI stands for Sign Language Interpreter. ODR coordinates the Sign Language Interpretation Program for District of Columbia Agencies.  Expenses for the interpretation services provided must come from the requesting Agency’s funds.

Substantially Limits: A person is substantially limited in performing a major life activity if he/she is unable to perform the activity; or he/she is significantly restricted in the condition, manner or duration that they can perform one or more major life activities as compared to the average person in the population.

Three-Pronged Approach: The three-pronged approach is the analytical process used to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA.  A person either (1) Has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits him or her in one or more major life activities; (2) Has a record of having such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

Undue Burden: The defense of undue burden is one used by the government when denying an individual reasonable accommodation under ADA Title I or reasonable modification under ADA Title II.  Undue Burden can be classified as unduly expensive,  extensive and substantial, or a fundamental alteration; or some combination of the three.  (For more information on each defense, see their individual definitions, listed individually in this glossary,)