Today, more than 60 million people in the United States, approximately one in five, have some type of disability (The Equal Rights Center. n. d. ). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. In general, a physical or mental impairment includes hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex, and mental retardation that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Major life activities include walking, talking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning, performing manual tasks, and caring for oneself (U. S Department of Housing and Urban Development). People with disabilities should have equal rights and there laws that are there to ensure that. People with disabilities face discrimination and barriers that restrict them from participating in society on an equal basis with others every day.
They are denied their rights to be included in the general school system, to be employed, to live independently in the community, to move freely, to vote, to participate in sport and cultural activities, to enjoy social protection, to access justice, to choose medical treatment and to enter freely into legal commitments such as buying and selling property (United Nations Human Rights, n. d). There are several federal laws and regulations that protect the rights of people with disabilities and touch almost every aspect of our daily lives.
Three federal laws in particular are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Probably the most well-known law is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. This law has paved the way for millions of Americans with disabilities to live free from discrimination and have equal access to education, employment and technology, as well as many programs, services and facilities in their communities.
The ADA prohibits discrimination in four main areas: your job, state and local government services and public transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications. The ADA makes it against the law to discriminate against someone with a disability at work. The law also says that employers make “reasonable accommodations” for qualified people with a disability. The ADA requires that all government services be made available and accessible to people with disabilities. These services include public transportation systems. The ADA requires that all public buildings be accessible to people with disabilities.
Examples include widening aisles and doorways and installing ramps for people in wheelchairs. Another example is putting up signs in Braille for people who are blind. The ADA requires that telephone companies provide telephone relay services to people with hearing and/or speech impairments (Office on Women’s Health, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. March 29, 2010). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that guarantees all children with disabilities access to a free and appropriate public education.
Schools must evaluate students suspected of having disabilities, including learning disabilities. Its primary goals are: to protect the rights of children with disabilities and to give parents a voice in their child’s education. IDEA ensures students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), just like all other children. Schools are required to provide special education in the least restrictive environment. That means schools must teach students with disabilities in general education classroom whenever possible.
Under IDEA, you have a say in the educational decisions the school makes about your child. (The Understood Team. Jan 22, 2014). Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is also federal law which requires a school district to provide a free and appropriate public education to each child with a disability in the district. Section 504 requires recipients to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of such students to the same extent as the needs of students without disabilities are met.
An appropriate education for a student with a disability under the Section 504 regulations could consist of education in regular classrooms, education in regular classes with supplementary services, and/or special education and related services. Opposers for disability equality rights think that these people are called disabled for a reason, so pretending they are the same gets us nowhere. They say that not everyone is equal. If you want to pretend they are “normal”, then you should treat them normal fully. For example, a mentally retarded child should receive the same resources and education as an advanced student.
You can’t have it both ways, either treat the different or treat the same, but stop trying to spare people’s feelings and make them feel included. The laws of any nation reflect societal values. Historically, the laws of the United States devalued persons with disabilities as society as a whole viewed such persons as a group of people to be pitied, ridiculed, rejected, and feared, or as objects of fascination. Persons with disabilities were seen as objects of charity or welfare or as needing to be subjected to medical treatment or cure (Neuhaus, R. , Smith, C. , & Burgdorf, M. 2014).
As a result of these views, persons with disabilities were denied basic human rights (as is quite frequently still the case today). Early laws and actions through the late 20th century reflected these beliefs. Even today there are still people who still deny basic human rights for some people. Recently, Uber the international transportation network company has been slammed with lawsuits that allege the company discriminates against blind and wheelchair-using passengers. The suits demand Uber abide by the ADA, but Uber claims that because it’s a technology company, not a transportation service, it doesn’t fall under the ADA’s jurisdiction.
Also there were previous cases where Uber passengers with disabilities have complained about drivers’ treatment of them: one rider complained that her service dog was forced to ride in the trunk, and others have described drivers who simply abandoned passengers at the curb after, the passengers allege, noticing their disabilities. The company has argued that since they’re a technology company that simply provides a platform to process payments and connect riders and passengers. They don’t own the fleet, and drivers aren’t their employees.
Some suggestions that advocates for people with disabilities have made have been that Uber could potentially purchase some vans that can accommodate power wheelchairs, as taxi services do. They could also require training for drivers on how to not be a jerk to people with disabilities. The problem with both of these options is that they require Uber to own vehicles and to require their independent contractors to attend training…both of which would make it seem more like an employer than a technology company that facilitates rides thanks to an invisible army of workers (Strochlic, Nina. 15).
People with disabilities are one of the largest minorities in the United States. But for most of American history, they occupied a subclass of millions without access to everyday things most citizens take for granted: schools, apartment buildings, public transportation, and more. Some were forcibly sterilized under state laws. Others were committed to horrifying institutions where they were left and forgotten (Neudel, Eric. 2011).
In recent years, there has been a revolutionary change in approach, globally, to close the protection gap and ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same standards of equality, rights and dignity as everyone else. The ADA is one of several laws that protect the employment and other rights of people with disabilities. 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. Because of the ADA and other laws we can ensure respect and equal treatment of people with disabilities.