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Levelling the Playing Field: Americans With Disabilities Act

Introduction to ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a legislation passed by the United States Congress in 1990. It is law aims to provide an equality in rights and protection for those who are with disabilities. This policy is also in accordance with the American civil rights against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and country of origin. The ADA was authored and sponsored by then Senator Tom Harkin who had a deaf brother. The ADA was signed into a law by then President George H. W. Bush on July 1990. The ADA of 1990 was later amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, an amendment signed into law during President George W. Bush’s (George H. W. Bush’s son) administration.

‘Disability’ Defined Thoroughly

From the first implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the definition of the term ‘disability’ has been widely debated and contested. According to the ADA of 1990, disability refers to “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” However, the determination of a person’s disability is done on a case-to-case basis. In 2008, the ADA Amendments Act provides a broader and clearer definition of the term ‘disability.’ The Americans with Disabilities Act also caused a change in the number and types of persons who can avail and be protected by the provisions of the ADA. The amendment paves the way for a change in the interpretation of statutory terms of the law and its provisions.

The ADA Benefits

The civil rights of the recipients of the ADA are protected in several settings and circumstances. The Americans with Disabilities Act also provides protection for persons with disabilities regarding their employment, availing of public accommodation and public transportation, telecommunications, and state and local government services and operations. Persons with disabilities who are qualified to work must be given equal opportunities same with normal persons in their workplaces. Auxiliary services and aids must also be provided to them inside public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants so they can enjoy and participate in the place. All transport systems must also be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Public documents must be available to them in the form of braille, large print, audiotapes, and electronic files for their convenience.

Implementing ADA

The current agency mainly concerned with ADA is the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. They provide information and technical assistance to those who are covered by this act. For any inquiry or information you need about the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can visit www.ada.gov.

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