Twenty years ago the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress. Without the law’s enactment my husband, who had recently become dependent on a wheel chair, would have been unable to go out to lunch, go to church, go shopping or enter a number of buildings. Without the help of ramps, curb cuts and building accessibility he would have been home bound.
Disability is defined by the ADA as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The four goals for public policy for people with disabilities were defined as equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency. As Public Law 94 142 was designed to provide “free and equal public education” to all children, the ADA expands equal rights to people of all ages.
We have grown accustomed to interpreters for those with hearing impairments, braille instructions on elevators and designated parking areas for those with physical disabilities. However, it appears that we are falling short of the stated goals when we look at the poverty rates, unemployment and underemployment figures, and lack of access to cutting edge technologies.
President Obama marked Monday’s 20th anniversary of this landmark anti-discrimination law for people with disabilities by promising to boost government efforts at recruiting, hiring and retaining people with physical and mental limitations. The president’s White House adviser on disability policy said advances in technology make revisiting the law a necessity.
In future blogs we will look at various needs and opportunities in housing, employment, and full participation. We welcome your questions, suggestions, and comments.
Have you, or someone you know, experienced discrimination in the workplace, housing accommodations, or participation in normal activities?