DISABILITY ISSUES INFORMATION FOR JOURNALISTS HOME TOPICS ABOUT THE CENTER The Americans with Disabilities Act The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the most comprehensive federal civil-rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities. It affects access to employment; state and local government programs and services; access to places of public accommodation such as businesses, transportation, and non-profit service providers; and telecommunications. . The scope of the ADA in addressing the barriers to participation by people with disabilities in the mainstream of society is very broad. The ADA's civil rights protections are parallel to those that have previously been established by the federal government for women and racial, ethnic and religious minorities. "The ADA is solely about 'equal opportunity', from its preamble to its final provision: like other civil rights laws, the ADA prohibits discrimination and mandates that Americans be accorded equality in pursuing jobs, goods, services and other opportunities -- but the ADA makes clear that equal treatment is not synonymous with identical treatment, says Professor Robert Burgdorf Jr., one of the drafters of the original bill that became the ADA. "Letting every employee have an identical opportunity to use a restroom located up a flight of stairs may be "identical" treatment but it is hardly equal treatment for a worker who uses a wheelchair. "The ADA is a mandate for equality. Any person who's discriminated against by an employer because of a real disability -- or because the employer regards the person as being disabled, whether they are or not -- should be entitled to the law's protection. The focus of the Act was -- and should be -- on eliminating employers' practices that make people unnecessarily different." Progress at 10 years Ten years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Ac in 1990, this landmark federal law has proved a remarkable success, defying the gloom and doom predictions of many members of Congress that the law, designed to open up American society to its 54 million citizens with disabilities, would bankrupt the economy. At the same time however, the law has not fully delivered on its keys promises to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace and in public
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- Fall '13
- Joseph Mukolwe
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Wheelchair