Americans with Disabilities Act

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In 1990, the ADA, which today remains the cornerstone of disability civil rights law in the United States, established four goals for disabled Americans: equal opportunity, independent living, full participation, and economic self-sufficiency.

Economic Justice Is Disability Justice

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination.

Disability rights are civil rights. From voting to parking, the ADA is a law that protects people with disabilities in many areas of public life.

The Americans with Disabilities Act | Beta.ADA.gov

The ADA, signed into law in 1990 and most recently amended in 2008, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and mandates that people with disabilities have “equal opportunity” to participate in American life. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the predecessor to the ADA, bars any entity receiving federal funding from discriminating on the basis of disability.13 The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),14enacted originally in 1975 and most recently reauthorized in 2004, requires that children with disabilities be provided a “free appropriate public education,” mandating access to an equitable educational experience; IDEA also provides significant funding for early intervention programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

More recently, the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)15expanded access for people with disabilities to education and training programs, programs for transition-age youth and young adults transitioning to adulthood, vocational rehabilitation, and more. This reauthorization also refocused funding on youth, providing new requirements for coordination and a focus on competitive integrated employment opportunities. 

Economic Justice Is Disability Justice

In 1990, the ADA, which today remains the cornerstone of disability civil rights law in the United States, established four goals for disabled Americans: equal opportunity, independent living, full participation, and economic self-sufficiency. Despite three decades of progress, economic security has been the most difficult of the ADA’s goals for the United States to realize and remains out of reach for an unconscionable share of America’s disability community.

The ADA makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against disabled individuals in regard to “job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training.”34Additionally, the ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations35 that make it possible for disabled workers to succeed at work, so long as they do not negate the essential functions of the job or require an undue financial hardship to the employer. Careful research indicates that those workers with disabilities most likely to benefit from the ADA’s protections—such as workers who face barriers that do not preclude full time and/or traditional work—did see employment gains after the passage of the ADA.36

Nevertheless, employment discrimination against disabled workers in the United States remains pervasive in nearly all employment settings. 

Economic Justice Is Disability Justice
  • Equal Opportunity
  • Independent Living
  • Full Participation
  • Economic Self-Sufficiency

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Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic parent and retired tech worker. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they

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