Justice Department Scraps ADA Guidance

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he’s rescinding more than two dozen guidance documents including several clarifying the implications of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Among the 25 revoked documents are a number of ADA-related items dating as far back as 1995 offering guidance on everything from service animals to accessible building practices as well as a 2016 letter on employment of people with disabilities.

Sessions called the revoked documents “improper or unnecessary” and said they were outdated or went beyond what the law called for.

The move announced in late December came after President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring all federal agencies to identify regulations for “repeal, replacement or modification.” The withdrawn guidance was identified through this process, Sessions said.

Disability advocates indicated they are particularly worried about the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to pull a statement issued under the Obama administration addressing the implications of the ADA’s integration mandate on employment.

“The civil rights of persons with disabilities, including individuals with mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or physical disabilities, are violated by unnecessary segregation in a wide variety of settings, including in segregated employment, vocational and day programs,” the Obama-era guidance stated.

The document warned states that they needed to modify their policies to ensure that employment programs offer people with disabilities the opportunity to work in integrated settings.

“We are extremely concerned about the withdrawal of this guidance document, both because it sends the wrong signal to public entities that are seeking to comply with the ADA and because it may reflect a diminished concern with the importance of providing employment services in the most integrated setting,” reads a statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination, two umbrella groups representing dozens of disability advocacy organizations.

Taking away the guidance does not change any of the ADA’s mandates, disability advocates noted. Nonetheless, withdrawing the guidance, which serves as an interpretation of the law, can create uncertainty, they said.

“Guidance documents are important tools to educate all stakeholders about the requirements of the law in a clear fashion, and the withdrawal of some of these guidance documents may create confusion and misunderstanding,” the advocacy coalitions cautioned.

Sessions indicated that the Justice Department is continuing to review guidance to identify other documents that may be ripe for repeal, replacement or modification.


Justice Department Scraps ADA Guidance