Tuesday, July 27, 2010

20 Years After ADA, Is Life Better For People With Disabilities?

The question to ask on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is whether life today is any better for those with disabilities? The first-ever civil rights law for people with physical and cognitive challenges, signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, it prohibited employment discrimination, and imposed requirements on access to public facilities, transportation and telecommunications.
It was intended to bring about sweeping change, and in many ways it has done that. For example, more cities and towns have street corners with curb cuts, making it possible for people who use wheelchairs to cross the street and use sidewalks. There are more public buses and trains with automatic lifts, and subway systems with elevators, as well as public buildings with automatic doors.
And yet, according to Andy Imparato, the president of the American Association for People with Disabilities, there remain large obstacles when it comes to finding a job. He told NewsHour reporter Jenny Marder that despite the ADA, 70 percent of people with significant disabilities are not working today, the same as twenty years ago. For people with any type of disabilities, about half are not working, also the same as twenty years ago.
The official unemployment figure for people with disabilities is just over 14 percent, but that counts only individuals who are actively looking for work. Many have given up, or been reluctant to begin searching in the first place.

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