42 USC 12131: Definitions
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42 USC 12131: Definitions Text contains those laws in effect on July 23, 2024

§12131. Definitions

As used in this subchapter:

(1) Public entity

The term "public entity" means-

(A) any State or local government;

(B) any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government; and

(C) the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and any commuter authority (as defined in section 24102(4) 1 of title 49).

(2) Qualified individual with a disability

The term "qualified individual with a disability" means an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.

( Pub. L. 101–336, title II, §201, July 26, 1990, 104 Stat. 337 .)

Editorial Notes

References in Text

Section 24102 of title 49, referred to in par. (1)(C), was subsequently amended, and section 24102(4) no longer defines "commuter authority". However, such term is defined elsewhere in that section.


In par. (1)(C), "section 24102(4) of title 49" substituted for "section 103(8) of the Rail Passenger Service Act" on authority of Pub. L. 103–272, §6(b), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1378 , the first section of which enacted subtitles II, III, and V to X of Title 49, Transportation.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries

Effective Date

Pub. L. 101–336, title II, §205, July 26, 1990, 104 Stat. 338 , provided that:

"(a) General Rule.-Except as provided in subsection (b), this subtitle [subtitle A (§§201–205) of title II of Pub. L. 101–336, enacting this part] shall become effective 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act [July 26, 1990].

"(b) Exception.-Section 204 [section 12134 of this title] shall become effective on the date of enactment of this Act."

Executive Documents

Ex. Ord. No. 13217. Community-Based Alternatives for Individuals With Disabilities

Ex. Ord. No. 13217, June 18, 2001, 66 F.R. 33155, provided:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to place qualified individuals with disabilities in community settings whenever appropriate, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. This order is issued consistent with the following findings and principles:

(a) The United States is committed to community-based alternatives for individuals with disabilities and recognizes that such services advance the best interests of Americans.

(b) The United States seeks to ensure that America's community-based programs effectively foster independence and participation in the community for Americans with disabilities.

(c) Unjustified isolation or segregation of qualified individuals with disabilities through institutionalization is a form of disability-based discrimination prohibited by Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 [12131] et seq. States must avoid disability-based discrimination unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity provided by the State.

(d) In Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999) (the "Olmstead decision"), the Supreme Court construed Title II of the ADA [42 U.S.C. 12131 et seq.] to require States to place qualified individuals with mental disabilities in community settings, rather than in institutions, whenever treatment professionals determine that such placement is appropriate, the affected persons do not oppose such placement, and the State can reasonably accommodate the placement, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with disabilities.

(e) The Federal Government must assist States and localities to implement swiftly the Olmstead decision, so as to help ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to live close to their families and friends, to live more independently, to engage in productive employment, and to participate in community life.

Sec. 2. Swift Implementation of the Olmstead Decision: Agency Responsibilities. (a) The Attorney General, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration shall work cooperatively to ensure that the Olmstead decision is implemented in a timely manner. Specifically, the designated agencies should work with States to help them assess their compliance with the Olmstead decision and the ADA [42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.] in providing services to qualified individuals with disabilities in community-based settings, as long as such services are appropriate to the needs of those individuals. These agencies should provide technical guidance and work cooperatively with States to achieve the goals of Title II of the ADA [42 U.S.C. 12131 et seq.], particularly where States have chosen to develop comprehensive, effectively working plans to provide services to qualified individuals with disabilities in the most integrated settings. These agencies should also ensure that existing Federal resources are used in the most effective manner to support the goals of the ADA. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall take the lead in coordinating these efforts.

(b) The Attorney General, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration shall evaluate the policies, programs, statutes, and regulations of their respective agencies to determine whether any should be revised or modified to improve the availability of community-based services for qualified individuals with disabilities. The review shall focus on identifying affected populations, improving the flow of information about supports in the community, and removing barriers that impede opportunities for community placement. The review should ensure the involvement of consumers, advocacy organizations, providers, and relevant agency representatives. Each agency head should report to the President, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with the results of their evaluation within 120 days.

(c) The Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall fully enforce Title II of the ADA, including investigating and resolving complaints filed on behalf of individuals who allege that they have been the victims of unjustified institutionalization. Whenever possible, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services should work cooperatively with States to resolve these complaints, and should use alternative dispute resolution to bring these complaints to a quick and constructive resolution.

(d) The agency actions directed by this order shall be done consistent with this Administration's budget.

Sec. 3. Judicial Review. Nothing in this order shall affect any otherwise available judicial review of agency action. This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the Federal Government and does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

George W. Bush.      

1 See References in Text note below.