Overview of Disability Laws

Overview of Disability Laws

Sarah Laugtug, Editor

I am very excited to be here as the new disability news editor at ILWAD, my goal is to educate and offer you resources to help you become more independent, empowered, and educated on disability topics. The following is a brief introduction to the most prominent disability laws passed in recent years. Disability rights, just as any equality cause, require time and dedication in order for change to occur. I believe we are on the path to equality, educating the public, and becoming more independent and united as a group. Each section includes a link so you can research further if you choose. I hope that this article is useful to you, and always feel free to give me feedback. And remember, we are BEAUTIFUL, not BROKEN.

Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968:

Requires that public buildings and facilities be accessible to persons with disabilities including buildings of employment and residence.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

Expands federal services to prevent discrimination toward PWD in the areas of health, education, and welfare. The following sections of the Rehabilitation Act are listed below.

  • Section 501: Federal agencies of the executive branch of government
  • Section 503: Federal contractors making more than $10k
  • Section 504: Federally funded programs including public schools, post-secondary schools, state, and local education agencies.
  • Section 508: Federally funded organizations to provide PWD accessible technology services and to eliminate barriers to those services.

To read entire act: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/rehab_act-1973.html

Rehabilitation, comprehensive services, developmental disabilities amendments Act: 1978

This Federal act amends and improves the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 extending and creating community service and employment programs for persons with disabilities (PWD). Title VII ensures “comprehensive services for independent living,” thus, authorizing rehabilitation services to provide PWD services to promote self-sufficiency in becoming independent in employment and in daily activities. Such services provided include therapeutic counseling, housing assistance, job placement services, transportation, attendant care, reception of prosthetics, and recreational services.

To read entire act: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/rehab_amendments_1978.html

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has come a long way since President George Bush signed the act on July 26, 1990. The purpose of the act was to implement guidelines to prevent discrimination for persons with disabilities in the areas of employment, public services, accommodations, and telecommunications. This was a landmark event establishing recognized equality for people with disabilities. The ADA includes several titles, simplified below.

  • Title I: Prohibits discrimination in employment concerning persons with disabilities, implemented on July 26, 1992. Areas include altering workstations, modifying equipment. Employers may not discriminate in any employment process (hiring, wages, benefits, etc.)
  • Title II: Prohibits discrimination in public services including public transportation, state and federal entities
  • Title III: Prohibits discrimination in public accommodations including construction of buildings: restaurants, hotels, stores, transportation systems
  • Title IV: Prohibits discrimination in telecommunications

President George Bush concluded with, “…I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say: Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” a new era began for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Transcript of the signing of the act: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/videos/ada_signing_text.html

Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), 9/25/2008:

On September 25, 2008, George W. Bush signed the Amendments Act (ADAAA) with an effective date of January 1, 2009. This ADAAA differs from the ADA in providing a broader definition of ‘impairment,’ protecting a greater number of individuals.

New definitions of disability include (in regards to individuals):

  • Being regarded as having an impairment
    • A person is protected if they received discrimination based on a perceived or actual impairment
    • An example of a perceived impairment is when an employer assumes the individual has a disability and discriminates that individual based on the perception (whether or not the individual has a disability is irrelevant)
  • Having a record of having an impairment
  • A physical/ mental impairment that limits major life activities
    • Major life activities include, but do not exclude: seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, learning, concentrating, speaking, breathing, loss of control of bodily functions

Examples of the expansion of inclusion of impairment must limit one or more major life activities:

  • The impairment may be episodic or in remission (such as with Cancers):
    • It will be considered an impairment ONLY when it limits a major life activity when active
  • The impairment may be controlled with medication, medical supplies, prostheses, hearing aids, assistive technology, oxygen therapy, low-vision equipment, etc.
    • i.e. Clinical Depression when controlled by medication is covered by ADAAA even though no symptoms arise because without the mitigating measure (medication) the Depression would affect major life activities

For more information: http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm

Dept. Of Justice (DOJ) amended regulations to implement the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Acts (ADAAA), titles II and III: ruling effective 3/15/2011

All new construction projects must be ADA compliant beginning March 15, 2012. Structures built/ altered with 1991 standards are exempt until the next alteration. Adjustments to the following include:

Title II regarding Public entities:

  • Detention/ correctional facilities
  • Rental housing programs

Title III regarding Public accommodations: changes made to rules regarding

  • Service animals
  • Wheelchairs
  • Effective communication

For more information: http://www.adata.org/Static/TitlesIIandIIAmends.aspx

Regulations to Implement the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA). Ruled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: 3/25/2011

Effective on January 1, 2009, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) included major changes to the ADA expanding and simplifying the definition of ‘impairment.’ Congress required the EEOC amend its ADA regulations to reflect the requirements of the ADAAA. You can view the official ruling here: http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/03/25/2011-6056/regulations-to-implement-the-equal-employment-provisions-of-the-americans-with-disabilities-act-as#p-3

3 thoughts on “Overview of Disability Laws”

  1. Great information Sarah, A+

    A little about the Americans with Disabilities Act whom we can Thank my trusted longtime friend and Senator from Iowa!

    As a young senator, Tom was tapped by Senator Ted Kennedy to craft legislation to protect the civil rights of millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities. Tom knew firsthand about the challenges facing people with disabilities from his late brother, Frank, who was deaf from an early age. What emerged from that process would later become Tom’s signature legislative achievement — The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990

    The ADA has become known as the “Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities.” The legislation changed the landscape of America by requiring buildings and transportation to be wheelchair accessible, and to provide workplace accommodations for people with disabilities. To preserve the intent of the ADA after several court rulings weakened its standards, Tom and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the ADA Amendments bill to ensure continuing protections from discrimination for all Americans with disabilities. It was signed into law in September 2008.

    Tom has also worked to advance collaborative research in paralysis and to improve quality of life for those living with paralysis, including by creating a Clinical Trials Network to measure the effectiveness of rehabilitation therapies. His Christopher and Dana Reeve Act, named after the actor and his wife, became law in March 2009.

    Tom also led the fight to lift former President Bush’s restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which shows great promise for new treatments of conditions like Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries and juvenile diabetes. On March 9th 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order lifting those restrictions.

    Tom has long believed that in America, we have a “sick care” system, not a health care system. Rather than treating people once they get sick, he believes that we should remove the barriers to a healthy lifestyle, reduce chronic disease and rein in the high cost of health care, creating a “wellness society” in America.

    He has done this in two ways — first as chairman of the Senate panel that funds medical research, he led the effort between 1998 and 2003 (in tandem with Sen. Arlen Specter) to double funding for research into cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. Second, as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, he crafted the prevention and wellness title of the health reform bill, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This historic investment in prevention across the full spectrum — at the federal, clinical and community level — was signed into law as part of health reform.

    As the chair of the Senate subcommittee that funds education, Tom has fought to improve education in Iowa and across the country. He has worked to reduce class size, give students better computer and Internet access, expand school counseling and safety programs and improve teacher training. He has also led the effort to modernize America’s school infrastructure. Each year he secures funding to help school districts in Iowa update and repair their facilities.

    In September 2009, following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, Tom became chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Tom believes that to serve in this capacity is to carry on the legacy of Senator Kennedy, who dedicated his life to ensuring that our economy works for all Americans, guaranteeing every child the opportunity to pursue a quality education and, of course, the cause of Kennedy’s life: access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

  2. Thanks for this VERY IMPORTANT information Sarah! I learned some new and relavent things. I’m looking forward to your next article!

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