July 26th, 2010, marked the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Act was brought into law under the presidency of George H.W. Bush and it was intended to be a way to ensure that individuals with disabilities with protected against discrimination based on their conditions. This was a ground-breaking civil rights law designed to protect against disability discrimination in areas such as access to public spaces and employment.
Over the past 20 years, one of the biggest areas the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have helped equal the playing field is in terms of employment. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act employers are required to make all “reasonable accommodations” necessary for employees to perform the essential parts of the job. Examples of such accommodations include providing a wheelchair ramp at the entrance of the workplace, additional breaks from work to take medication, or the provision of specialized computer software that makes it possible for a visually impaired person to hear the text rather than read it. These accommodations are sanctioned as extensions of other provisions that forbid the refusal to hire someone based on disability, for example. Essentially, the ADA was designed to help (among other things) ensure that employment decisions are based on the applicant’s ability, not on any disabilities they may have.
The ADA, although it created new protections in terms of employment for persons with disabilities, also gave rise to employers taking a too-narrow viewpoint of what constitutes a “disability” and, therefore, who could be protected under the Act. In response to that, Congress in 2008 passed amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act that clearly outlined that the focus ought to be on avoiding illegal discrimination, not on the courts determining whether a victim was disabled under the law.
When the government instituted the Americans with Disabilities Act, they were sending a clear message about the value they placed on the importance of including a diverse population in all aspects of American life as well as the work place. In the two decades that have passed since the Act was passed, the legislation has made ground-breaking changes not only in employment, but also in the provision of government services, business life, access to public areas, transportation and others areas, creating new opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The foundation of the ADA was formed as a result of community involvement on the part of disability rights advocates who linked arms with the existing civil rights movements to speak out in a strong united voice. The Act blurred political divides: It was introduced by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, supported by both sides of the aisle, and signed into law by Republican president George H.W. Bush.
The 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a celebration of the Act’s core principles of creating a climate of access, inclusion and equality. These principles have extended into every corner of American life, making it easier for persons with disabilities to enjoy the same opportunities of their able-bodied counterparts.
To help persons with disabilities lead full and active lives, there are many online sources, such as Vitality Medical, that provide a wide variety of assisted-living products. Vitality Medical carries everything from telescopic reachers that help you get things from hard to reach places, foot stools with handles to safely reach elevated items, wagon cart to move small items like groceries and laundry, to wheelchairs that are lightweight and sturdy. Shop online at Vitality Medical today!