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Legal Protection for People with Disabilities

There are several federal and state laws designed to end discrimination against people with disabilities and Deaf people.

  • Definitions of disability may vary, but generally, if you think someone has a disability, they are most likely protected under the law. Like most civil rights laws, protections only kick in when discrimination occurs. So a person who is Deaf could be considered to have a disability, but as long as they aren’t being discriminated against the law does not apply.
  • Getting laws enforced and fighting for equal rights is an on-going battle for many people with disabilities and Deaf people. For example, when you are working with someone who is frustrated with an accessibility problem, realize that they face accessibility problems every day, despite laws that should prevent this.
  • While some of the laws do provide the option for legal action, it is a time consuming process that rarely benefits the person in any way. Most people with disabilities or Deaf people would rather work with you to fix a problem than use the legal system. Many will tell you that if they sued every business that was out of compliance, they would spend their whole lives in court. Remember this when someone seems reluctant to seek services because of inaccessibility.

Significant Laws Applicable to People with Disabilities

The ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act of1990

Tip sheet –

Text and government tip sheets ( Includes tip sheets and FAQs about service animals, small businesses, new and old lodging, and communications.

ADA Information Line
800-514-0301 (voice)

Fair Housing Act of 1988

Prevents discrimination in housing against people with disabilities and Deaf people and outlines what accommodations landlords must make.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 requires that all programs and activities receiving Federal funds be accessible to people with disabilities and Deaf people.

Architectural Barriers Act of 1968

Requires that all construction and remodeling done with Federal funds or leased by a Federal agency, comply with Federal physical accessibility standards.

Vermont Laws

Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act

Vulnerable Adults Laws in Vermont

Lists mandatory reporting and vulnerable adult relief from abuse orders laws

Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act

Sections 495-496

Crisis Worker Privilege