ADA Basics for Criminal Justice Professionals: What is the ADA and why does it matter?

ADA Basics for Criminal Justice Professionals: What is the ADA and why does it matter?
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-09-19
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: ADA Basics for Criminal Justice Professionals: What is the ADA and why does it matter?
Unit 2 Transcript: ADA Basics for Criminal Justice Professionals: What is the ADA and why does it matter?
Unit 3 Workbook: ADA Basics for Criminal Justice Professionals: What is the ADA and why does it matter?
Unit 4 Recording: ADA Basics for Criminal Justice Professionals: What is the ADA and why does it matter?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. One of the things it encompasses is state and local governments. In this session, Chris Smith unpacks critical considerations on its application in the criminal justice space and how criminal justice entities can remain compliant with ADA stipulations.

Deputy Chris Smith is from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. He’s been with the LCSO for 10 years, serving as its ADA coordinator over the last four years.

Points he covered during his presentation include:

  • An overview of Larimer County, the LCSO, and Chris’ role as ADA Coordinator.
  • Equality, equity, and inclusion: How the ADA aims to have full inclusion and how the nature of criminal justice is only able to allow equity.
  • What the ADA is and the five titles that constitute the ADA.
  • The conditions of Title II of the ADA that apply to the different areas of the state and local government.
  • ADA’s definition of disability and the three main categories of disabilities that it encompasses, and its scope based on the individual’s activities and bodily functions.
  • The limitation of the government’s duty to provide accommodations to avoid exclusion of individuals with disabilities based on reasonableness, appropriateness, and financial and administrative burden.
  • The goal of the ADA is to meet the needs of those with disabilities but not necessarily cater to their preference of how those needs can be met.
  • ADA-related modifications in patrol functions which look at:
    • The totality of circumstances, paying special attention to safety and security considerations.
    • The nature, length, and complexity of the interaction with a subject.
    • The policy modifications that can be taken to accommodate disabilities while still observing security and safety protocols.
  • ADA accommodations as it relates to service animals.
    • What are service animals based on the legal definition, and the two factors that determine whether an animal is actually a service animal.
    • What and where service animals are allowed to do and go to, and the condition in which a service animal can only be removed.
  • ADA considerations in detention and correction settings that looks at:
    • Balancing ADA accommodations with liability and limitations that inmates have being in custody.
    • Housing set up where those with disabilities are integrated with others as they would be outside in communities.
    • Accommodations that can be provided for those visiting jails and prisons to ensure effective communication.
  • Accessibility options and prompts that are included in administrative functions in an effort to accommodate ADA stipulations.
  • The best way to ensure that those who need accommodations are accommodated for – by asking.

Questions raised by webinar attendees are on:

  • Using live ASL signers and similar workarounds for live trainings.
  • Whether non-violent protection dogs qualify as service animals.
  • Accommodations for hearing-impaired individuals in correctional facilities.
  • Where to start to ensure ADA compliance and related resources.
  • Whether individuals previously identified as needing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are covered by the ADA.
  • Seeking help from an HR generalist when it comes to Title I concerns.
  • Examples of accommodations made for individuals with mental health conditions in correctional environments.
  • Balancing security concerns, and disability accommodations in corrections.



Click here to view and register for other upcoming Law Enforcement webinars and recordings on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “I have a lot more to learn about ADA compliance and local disability laws.” — Nakita
  • “I appreciated the Q and A at the end.” — Nancy
  • “Interesting learning about the legal ADA animals.” — Susanne
  • “Good basic information on the importance of following ADA laws and regulations.” — Travis
  • “I liked the examples that were given in relation to corrections.” — Arlisa
Additional Resources
9 months ago
After the Webinar: ADA Basics for Criminal Justice Professionals. Q&A with Chris Smith
Webinar presenter Chris Smith answered a number of your questions after his presentation, ADA Basics […]
1 year ago
Intervening with Trauma and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD) in Families
Youth that becomes entangled in the justice system tend to come from two specific groups – those t […]
5 years ago
From Guide Dogs to Therapy Squirrels: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Animal Welfare Professionals
Animals have proven themselves useful to humans for a long time – from assisting with hunting, far […]
5 years ago
The ADA for Justice Professionals
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), first enacted in 1990 and amended in 2009 was put into pl […]
6 years ago
Five Things to Know When Working with Sexual Assault Victims with Disabilities
People with disabilities experience sexual assault at rates three times higher than people without d […]