About your rights in accessing state & local government services

If you are a person with a disability, you have certain rights to access state and local government services. Find out about them.

State, local and municipal governments must provide equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in all of their:

  • Programs
  • Activities
  • Services 
  • Employment practices

People using service animals must be allowed equal access. 

Effective communication must be ensured with persons who are deaf, hard of hearing and blind or who have cognitive disabilities through provision of auxiliary aids and services. 

Under a concept called “programmatic access,” every part of every facility does not necessarily have to be accessible. Instead, the programs, activities and services as a whole must be readily accessible to and useable by persons with disabilities. 

If you have any complaints about discriminatory acts, you must file them:

  • Within 180 of the alleged discriminatory act with the U.S. Department of Justice, or 
  • Within 300 days with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.  

ADA and 504 Coordinator for Executive Branch of State Government

MOD offers training and technical assistance to colleagues across state government. We intervene when necessary to make sure that the Commonwealth complies with its obligations under the federal and state laws regarding disability discrimination. These laws include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — The primary federal civil rights law designed to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination and clear, strong, consistent, and enforceable standards for addressing discrimination of persons with disabilities.
  • Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1973  - a federal law which protects individuals with disabilities from being excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by entities that receive federal funds. Federal agencies that provide funding typically have their own regulations that specifically describe how the entities they fund must ensure non-discrimination.
  • Mass. General Law Chp. 151b - State law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in matters of employment or housing. 
  • Mass General Law Chp 272 - Several sections of this chapter of state law prohibit discrimination against individuals in places of public accommodation. 
  • Executive Order 592 affirmed the Commonwealth’s commitment to non-discrimination, diversity, and equal opportunity in all aspects of state employment, programs, services, activities, and decisions. It also established specific policies and procedures to achieve this goal.

The Disability Handbook for the Executive Branch provides important information for ADA Coordinators in the Executive Branch. It was last updated in June 2022.


Additional Resources for

Further information

If after reading the information above, you still have disability-related questions, MOD can discuss the nuances of your unique case and help you understand your options. Use our contact form to give us the key details of your situation. 

If you can make good use of our online information and be clear about your questions it helps us serve as many people as possible.