Irene Bowen, J.D., founder of ADA One, served as Deputy Chief of the Disability Rights Section of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division from 1991 to August 2008. She co-authored the ADA regulations and standards and drove an array of initiatives; she brought DOJ’s first ADA cases and investigated, litigated, or oversaw dozens of other cases. She was actively involved in the development of the ADA regulations DOJ proposed in June 2008.

In fact, Ms. Bowen worked with the ADA, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Architectural Barriers Act, and their regulations and standards since – and even before – their enforcement began. She started a national law center for deaf people in law school. She served as Deputy General Counsel of the Access Board, where she pursued the first administrative complaints under the Architectural Barriers Act.

Ms. Bowen always sought out a basis for voluntary resolution during her federal career, even though she was a skilled “enforcer.” And she succeeded again and again: she resolved many more cases through settlements than through consent decrees.

Irene Bowen expresses her philosophy in the following way:

I’ve devoted my career to my passion: access for people with disabilities to facilities and services under the laws that guarantee their civil rights. At the same time, I’m practical about the challenges of compliance.

I believe that most covered entities want to comply with the laws. Most want to “do what’s right” and implement best practices, even those that aren’t necessarily required for compliance.

But compliance can be complicated. Civil rights cross into “code” territory when inaccessible facilities impede access. Almost always, satisfying the law means following more than one law and more than one Federal/state/local standard. The civil rights obligations are limited by factors related to cost and difficulty; the “code” requirements generally aren’t.

I have a second professional passion: teaching. I use my teacher training and skills to make legal principles clear to those who aren’t lawyers, as well as those who are. I know that the details of equal opportunity and of accessibility requirements can be overwhelming to a “novice,” but I’m able to engage individuals and groups in interactive – and yes, even fun – learning experiences. They learn what they need to do, and they learn how to learn more.

I guide you not to do just the minimum that you can “get away with” under the law. I help you understand the principles behind the laws and the benefits of compliance. I urge you to provide access in a way that

  • works for you and your unique situation,
  • uses your resources wisely, and
  • improves your services for everyone.

We work together so that you can achieve those goals. I make sure you are equipped with resources and sources for resolving challenges that may arise later.

Then compliance will become woven into the fabric of your organization.

ADA One is here to help you understand how the ADA applies to what you do and to bring in other experts in specific fields as needed. Then we go one step further: we empower you to put the learned principles into practice in your own specific setting.