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Research Guides in Focus – Disability Law in the United States: A Beginner’s Guide

The following is a guest post by Louis Myers, the current Librarian-in-Residence at the Law Library of Congress. Louis has recently authored blog posts for In Custodia Legis, including New Acquisition: The Trial of Governor Picton, A Case of Torture in Trinidad, Research Guides in Focus – Municipal Codes: A Beginner’s Guide, and Research Guides in Focus – Neighbor Law: A Beginner’s Guide.

Today, the Law Library of Congress is excited to present one of our newly published research guides, Disability Law in the United States. This guide builds upon the instructions and strategies provided in our similar research guide, Social Security Disability Law: A Beginner’s Guide. The new guide focuses on different disability law-related resources, including information about federal laws and regulatory agencies, well-known policy advocacy groups, resources available for military veterans, and a section on service animals. The guide is intended to help researchers access information about the constitutionally-protected rights of people with disabilities.

Screen capture of the front page of the Law Library's guide on US disability laws

Introduction page of Disability Law in the United States: A Beginner’s Guide, //guides.loc.gov/disability-law/introduction

The guide begins with an introduction to disability policy in the United States, highlighting the initiative taken by Congress to write legislation that allows government departments and other entities to provide advocacy, research, education, and enforcement of disabled persons’ rights. The guide also covers the primary disability-related legislation in the United States, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Along with the federal laws supporting disability rights, numerous federal agencies participate in enforcement and advocacy for people with disabilities. Researchers will find information about agency powers and jurisdiction, and links to the implementing regulations for these different authorities. Finally, the guide provides links to some of the leading disability-related policy groups in the United States.

Two special subtopics are found in the guide: service animals and veterans’ resources. On the service animals page, researchers will find information about the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. The page includes electronic materials from both the government and non-profit advocacy groups, and print materials explaining the law and policy surrounding service animals. Veterans can use any of the resources throughout the guide; however, there are specific benefits and services available only to veterans and their families. The veterans’ resources page links to websites with information about services available to these individuals, including government and non-profit resources and information about court cases affecting veterans’ issues.

Congress stated in the “Findings and purpose” of the ADA that the law was intended “to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” Our guide seeks to embody these national policies by providing researchers with the tools and resources necessary to empower individuals with disabilities, and protect their rights. We would encourage researchers who have further questions, comments or feedback about this guide to reach out to us through Ask A Librarian.

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