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The American Disabilities Act, Essay Example

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America has over 43 million people who are affected with physical along with mental disabilities with future expectations of an upward trend with the aging and growth of population. A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual in question together with a record of such impairment or when regarded to have such an impairment. On a historical context, isolation and segregation of people affected by disability has been the trend in the society. However, though significant improvements have been noted, segregations and isolations of this nature continuously cause significant pain as one of the notable social problem in the society (Yell, 2006). The American Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990 with the intention of protecting individuals with disabilities from discrimination (Yell, 2006).

ADA being an extension of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act solves the problem associated with the limitations of section 504. Whereas section 504 is limited to regulating entities receiving federal funding, ADA has antidiscrimination prohibitions that extend to the private sector with disregard to funding. It also protects people with HIV and tuberculosis against discrimination.

ADA compliance and complaints issues are handled by the office for Civil Rights. This is because it is a civil rights law designed with the intention of expanding the protection of individuals with disabilities from discrimination. The legislation under ADA specifically addresses the education of children with disabilities. However, the courts have established that ADA does not provide any procedural or substantive right to students with disability in k-12 setup beyond what is provided by section 504 and IDEA (Yell, 2006).

ADA intends to harmonize social values in private and public schools by enhancing equality in accessing facilities and ensuring there is nondiscriminatory treatment of employees. It assures that justice is done by sensitizing students exiting high school about their rights and protections in the community and the workplace. It also corrects historical injustices done perpetrated against the disabled person. People with disabilities have historically been isolated and at the moment, discrimination is still a social problem and it can only be controlled systematically through legislation.

People felt it was important to pass the ADA for a number of reasons. There was the need to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate which would eventually foresee the final annihilation of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Besides that, there was the need to provide strong, clear, enforceable, consistent standards addressing discrimination against physically and mentally challenged individuals. The central government needed to be involved more by enforcing standards established under the Act on behalf of individuals with disabilities. People felt that by implementing an Act that can invoke congressional authority including the power to regulate commerce and enforce the fourteenth amendment, then major areas of discrimination would be addressed (Wenkart, 1993).

ADA does not allow for any form of discrimination in services rendered by the state and local government, employment, transportation, telecommunications and places of public accommodation. The Act provides extensive amount of regulatory enforcement and protection necessary to ensure the civil rights of all individuals with disabilities.

The main goal of ADA is to ensure all people are protected from discrimination while they are exposed to identical opportunities with respect to employment as well as public services (Huefner, 2000). Its mission is to rid the society off discrimination of people with disabilities, especially in the education sector by protecting the civil right of individuals with disability. In the aspect of employment, this goal is achieved through prohibiting discrimination by employers, employment agencies, labor-management committees and labor organizations against qualified individuals who have disabilities in the place of work. These organizations are barred from asking certain types of question while at the same time requiring them to make accommodations for qualified individuals with physical or mental disabilities. In the event that either of this organization goes against these requirements, the affected person can file complaint through the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (Wenkart, 1993).

Moreover this goal is achieved through prohibiting all local and state governments discriminating against individuals with disabilities. In service delivery, the following institutions are prohibited from discriminating against protected individuals with disabilities. They include schools, public transportation, social services, courts, recreational facilities and health care. This ensures that individuals with disabilities can benefit from and engage in government supported activities (Huefner, 2000).

Non profit organizations, private businesses and commercial entities that provide accommodations to the public are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities (Huefner, 2000). The goal is to curtail discrimination coming from organizations or businesses that rent, own or lease e.g. public transportation, private schools, amusement parks etc.

ADA has several weaknesses which include; exemption of U.S. government and private membership clubs from the requirements of title one, making disabled persons potential victims of discrimination from this entities. Exemption of federal government from the effects of title 2. Critical groups such as public and parochial schools, religious organizations and churches and generally, public entities are exempted from the requirements of title 3.

ADA has a negative aspect in that it does not extend procedural or substantive rights beyond those provided by section 504 or ADEA. Also for a case law involving K-12, ADA is limited.

References

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213.

Huefner, D. S. (2000). Getting comfortable with special education law. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Wenkart, R. D. (1993). The Americans with Disabilities Act and its impact on public education.  Education haw Reporter, 82, 291—302.

Yell, M. (2006). The law and special education (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

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