US Department of Education NIDRR Technical Assistance Program

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Chapter 2: Individuals With Disabilities

III-2.1000 General.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against any "individual with a disability." People commonly refer to disabilities or disabling conditions in a broad sense. For example, poverty or lack of education may impose real limitations on an individual's opportunities. Likewise, being only five feet in height may prove to be an insurmountable barrier to an individual whose ambition is to play professional basketball. Although one might loosely characterize these conditions as "disabilities" in relation to the aspirations of the particular individual, the disabilities reached by title III are limited to those that meet the ADA's legal definition -- those that place substantial limitations on an individual's major life activities.

Title III protects three categories of individuals with disabilities:

  1. Individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  2. Individuals who have a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited one or more of the individual's major life activities; and
  3. Individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment, whether they have the impairment or not.