The ADA and other disability rights topics span far and wide. Here are some things you may not know - but should!
Perspective on Disability Facts and Figures.
Approximately 61 million Americans in 2018 had a disability. Let’s take a look at some facts for comparison: There are more people with disabilities living in America than the entire population of South Africa. The number of Americans with vision impairments is comparable to the entire 7.1 million person population of Paraguay, and there are more Americans with hearing disabilities than all of the population of Greece
Breaking Down the ADA.
The ADA of 1990, including its Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), covers five different areas:
- Title I Equal Employment Opportunity for individuals with disabilities: This title is designed to remove barriers that would deny qualified individuals with disabilities access to the same employment opportunities and benefits available to others without disabilities.
- Title II Nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in State and Local Government Services: This title prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. The public entity is required to provide access to programs, services and activities provided by the state or local government, when viewed in their entirety.
- Title III Nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities: This title prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private entities in places of public accommodation. Examples include hotels, restaurants, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, etc.
- Title IV Telecommunications: This title requires telephone companies to have developed interstate and intrastate telephone relay services in every state. In addition, Title IV requires that federally funded television public service messages be close captioned for viewers with hearing impairments.
- Title V Miscellaneous Provisions: The final title contains a variety of provisions relating to the ADA as a whole, including its relationship to other laws and its impact on insurance providers and benefits.
Preserving Our History.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This quote, spoken by philosopher George Santayana, reflects the missions of both the ADA Legacy Project and the Disability Visibility Project. The ADA Legacy Project has a threefold mission: to preserve the history of the disability rights movement, celebrate the impact of legislation like the ADA, and educate the public on improving inclusion and equal rights for those with disabilities.
Job accommodations enable people with disabilities to perform essential job functions, be productive and accomplish work tasks with greater ease and independence, according to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free source of expert one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. For additional guidance on reasonable accommodations and enforcement, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The Rights of Pregnant Workers.
Pregnant workers are generally protected by three laws: the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Although pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADAAA, pregnancy-related impairments, such as gestational diabetes, severe nausea, sciatica or preeclampsia, may be recognized as a disability and could require an accommodation
Students with disabilities attending post-secondary schools are protected from discrimination by both the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In accordance with these laws, a school must make its programs, including its extracurricular activities, accessible to students with disabilities in an integrated setting.
Accessible Hotel Accommodations.
The ADA (i.e., Title III) requires all hotels and motels in the U.S. to make their facilities equally accessible to people with disabilities. There are two types of accessible guest rooms: those with “mobility” features and others with “communication” features. For guests with mobility impairments, roll-in showers and grab bars, lower counters and closet bars are a few of the structural features that should be offered. For guests who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, hotels and motels are required to provide rooms equipped with visual notification devices, telephone amplifiers and TDDs.
Accessible Public Transportation.
Public transit, such as buses, trains, subway systems, paratransit and ferries, make it possible for people with disabilities to get to work, medical appointments and social activities in their communities. Air travel is regulated under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Technology and the ADA.
Accessible technology can be used by people with a wide range of abilities, whether they use assistive technology or not. Assistive technology allows individuals with disabilities to perform tasks or functions they might otherwise be unable to do.
People You Should Know.
The enactment of the ADA would not have happened without the hard work of these advocates and many others:
- Justin Dart, Jr., who is known as the “father” of the ADA, held public forums across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico at his own expense to converse with people with disabilities and advocate for their civil rights.
- Dr. Fred Fay, who was a quadriplegic and prominent advocate for disability rights, won support for not only the ADA, but also the federal Architectural Barriers Act of 1968.
- Patrisha Wright, who is known as "the General" of the ADA, was also a driving force behind the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act of 1986 and amendments to the Fair Housing Act, which prevented landlords from discriminating against people with disabilities.
- Robert Burgdorf, Jr., a professor at the University of the District of Columbia, wrote the original version of the ADA that was introduced in Congress.
- Lex Frieden, the former director of the National Council on the Handicapped (now the National Council on Disability), helped craft the language of the ADA. The concept of “reasonable accommodation” stemmed from his experience in college when his classes were moved to a building that could better accommodate his wheelchair.
- Tony Coelho, a former Congressman, was the primary author and sponsor of the ADA. He stated the law was urgently needed to prevent the discrimination against individuals with disabilities that he experienced as a person with epilepsy.
- Senator Tom Harkin, whose brother is deaf, authored, sponsored and introduced the ADA to the Senate. He considers it to be his signature legislative achievement and continues to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
- Evan Kemp, Jr., a former chairman of the EEOC, worked closely with President George H.W. Bush during the ADA deliberations. He even wrote several of the President’s speeches for disability-related events.