On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA provided broad anti-discrimination prohibitions against disabled individuals in several areas, including employment, state and local government services and facilities, public accommodations and telecommunications.
Title III of the ADA contained proscriptions in the public accommodations area, which refer to establishments that cater to the public, such as department stores, and other retail businesses. To implement them, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued regulations and adopted architectural standards issued by the Federal Access Board. These guidelines, called the ADA Accessibility Guidelines or ADAAG, took effect in 1991, imposing heightened standards for alterations begun after January 26, 1992 and new construction concluded in 1993 and after.
During the succeeding 20 years, Title III's provisions have been enforced both by the DOJ and by private suits where a prevailing plaintiff not only gets an order making facilities accessible, but also attorneys' fees.
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