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The ADA owes its birthright not to any one person, or any few, but to the many thousandsof people who make up the disability rights movement – people who have worked for years organizing and attending protests, licking envelopes, sending out alerts, drafting legislation, speaking, testifying, negotiating, lobbying, filing lawsuits, being arrested – doing whatever they could for a cause they believed in. There are far too many people whose commitment and hard work contributed to the passage of this historic piece of disability civil rights legislation to be able to give appropriate credit by name. The disability rights movement, over the last couple of
AMERICA WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990 4decades, has made the injustices faced by people with disabilities visible to the American public and to politicians. This required reversing the centuries long history of “out of sight, out of mind” that the segregation of disabled people served to promote. The disability rights movement adopted many of the strategies of the civil rights movements before it. On May 9, 1989 Senators Harkin and Durrenberger and Representatives Coelho and Fish jointly introduced the new ADA in the 101st Congress. From that moment, the disability community mobilized, organizing a multi-layered strategy for passage. A huge coalition was assembled by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), which included disability organizations, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), and an array of religious, labor and civic organizations.America with Disabilities Act casesThe first hearing in the 101st Senate on the new ADA was an historic event and set thetone for future hearings and lobbying efforts. It was kicked off by the primary sponsors talkingabout their personal experiences with disability.It was kicked off by the primary sponsors talkingabout their personal experiences with disability. Senator Harkin spoke of his brother who is deaf,Senator Kennedy of his son, who has a leg amputation, and Representative Coelho, who hasepilepsy spoke about how the discrimination he faced almost destroyed him.Bragdon v. AbbottSidney Abbott, after disclosing on a form that she was 'asymptomatic' HIV positive, was refused service from her dentist, Randon Bragdon, to fill a cavity. Bragdon submitted that he would agree to fill the cavity if he could perform the work in a hospital setting, but that Abbott would have to pay for the expense of being admitted and using the facility. Abbott sued Bragdon on grounds of discrimination, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The case was
AMERICA WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990 5appealed through the court system and eventually was agreed to be heard by the Supreme Court. Abbott’s case was based on the argument that she was a victim of discrimination based on the ADA. Abbott argued that HIV created a “substantial limitation” to life activities, specifically, reproductive ability. Bragdon, the defendant, retorted that HIV posed a “direct threat” to his health and safety, but that he was willing to work on Abbott should he be able to take “extra precautions” in a hospital setting. Federal trial courts, as well as appellate courts ruled in favor of