John L Wodatch

Former, Chief Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division United States Department of Justice


John Wodatch is a disability rights attorney, with over 50 years specializing in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He served for 42 years in the Federal government, where he authored the government’s comprehensive disability rights regulations and created and led the Department of Justice’s office in charge of enforcing the ADA.

He is one of the drafters of the Americans with Disabilities Act., serving as a member of the White House negotiating team and as the Department of Justice’s chief technical expert during the writing and passage of the ADA. He was also part of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations that helped develop the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He was the chief author of the Department of Justice’s 1991 ADA regulations, created DOJ’s initial ADA technical assistance programs, and assembled the Department’s ADA enforcement staff. From 1990 until 2011 he served as the Director and Section Chief overseeing all interpretation, technical assistance, and enforcement of the ADA at the Department of Justice. Just before he retired, he was responsible for the first major revision of the Department's ADA regulations, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. He is also the chief author of the first Federal regulations implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In 2010 he was honored with the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for exceptional achievement in his career.. He received a B.A. from Trinity College, an M.P.A. from Harvard University, and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law School.