Today, July 26 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the Disabilities Act signed by President George H. Bush in 1990. The Act prohibits discrimination based on disability, addresses access to the workplace, and requires instructions to Federal agencies that enforce the law. The Act prohibits any employer from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities along with providing equal opportunity in public accomodations and transportation. However, like every piece of legislation, there is an opposition with some critical reviews. Some believe that the ADA does not consider groups of individuals disabled until a case is brought to court, or that big companies still don't comply with federal regulations. Well, I believe the Act has done a lot of good for millions of people. Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa saluted the people who helped bring the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, "Twenty years ago, we heard testimony from Americans who had to crawl on their hands and knees to go up a flight of stairs; who couldn't ride on a bus because there wasn't a lift; who couldn't even cross the street in their wheelchairs because there were no curb cuts." Harkin was an original sponsor of the legislation and added, "The ADA has broken down barriers, created opportunities and transformed lives." With regards to employment, Obama explained, "We’re going to boost recruitment, we’re going to boost training, we’re going to boost retention." He went on to say, “We’ll better train hiring managers. Each agency will have a senior official who’s accountable for achieving the goals we’ve set. And I expect regular reports."
Americans with Disabilities Facts:
- According to the 2010 Census Bureau, 54 million Americans have a disability. (1 in 5 people)
- More than three million people, 15 yrs +, use a wheelchair.
- Michigan was among the first states to to have laws protecting disabled people.
- 21% of disabled working-age Americans had a job in the past year, versus 59% for those without disabilities.
- Disabled people does not only apply to the physically impaired, but the deaf, blind, those unable to function independently, the crippled, and those mentally/cognitively impaired.
"Equal access. Equal opportunity. The freedom to make our lives what we will. These aren’t principles that belong to any one group or any one political party. They are common principles. They are American principles." -Barack Obama