Brief History of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

By Choice Engineering In Road Design No comments

The American with Disabilities Act’s name may give the idea that it only protects Americans. This is far from the truth.  In fact, provisions for this act are more inclusive and benefits any person with disabilities in the United States, whether they live in this country or are visitors to any region. The ADA is one of the most comprehensive civil rights legislations that protects people from discrimination. It helps guarantee that people with disabilities have a fair chance, the same as everyone else, to get a job, to shop for the things they need, and to participate in government programs and services.

The act was signed on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. Yes, Jeb’s dad. It was patterned after the Civil Rights Act, an equal opportunity law to protect the disabled. Yes, this law was enacted eight months after the Berlin wall came tumbling down. This was a time when the world was becoming more sensitive to mankind’s needs, we all seemed to be more caring and understanding of one another. It was an age of enlightenment and thoughtfulness!!?

The ADA was implemented to protect all with disabilities. Definition of a disability was intentionally made broad and vague so it could be more inclusive. It is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and applies to a person who has a history or record of such an impairment or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

As we move forward and as an ADA Specialist, I hope that we all remember the meaning and intent of ADA and that we all can be more enlightened and sensitive to the needs of those with disabilities. When we design a roadway project or prepare a safety studies, please keep in mind those who will be impacted by it, from the elderly grandmother needing a walker to go shopping for groceries at the super market, to the man recuperating from heart surgery, to the wheel chair bound veteran who became a paraplegic because of the tragedies of war. We are designing for all, including the people with Disabilities.

Here are a few links to help with some question you may have. If you still do not understand something about ADA requirement for FDOT, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Leo Francis
Senior Designer

You should also go thru the basic ADA training, this is a power point prepared by Central Office, see link below:

Standard Plans:

102-660: TTCP – Sidewalk Closure

522-001: Sidewalk –

522-002: Detectable Warnings and Sidewalk Curb Ramps –

D528-001: Directional Indicator –

646-001 – Aluminum Post and Pedestal Mounted Pedestrian Detectors and Signals

665-001 – Pedestrian Detector Assembly Installation Details


FDOT Design Manual (FDM):

222 – Pedestrian Facilities

224 – Shared Use Paths

225 – Public Transit Facilities


Additional ADA standards are: Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG), ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities (ADASTF) and ADA Standards for Accessible Design (ADASAD), see links below: