Americans with Disabilities Act Barbara Blake Simmons College






with Disabilities Act


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Introduction to the Policy

        People who have disabilities face an
enormous amount of difficult circumstances in our society. According to the United States Census
Bureau, approximately twelve percent of the total US population has a
disability (2011). That is the equivalent of thirty-six million citizens
who claim to have at least one type of impairment. In the 1970’s, people with disabilities
began to form groups to protest the discrimination occurring within their communities,
education and the workplace. Section 504, which was passed by Congress in 1973,
is the standard for federal agencies to reference for discriminatory policies
and practices. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was officially passed
by Congress in 1990 with the goal of ending the unfair treatment disabled
citizens. Specifically, the ADA was introduced to “address the needs of people
with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services,
public accommodations, and telecommunications” (EEOC). This policy was
implemented with an end goal of ending the unfair treatment disabled citizens
were receiving.

ADA’s target population includes all citizens with a physical or mental
disability, but does not define specific ailments, because while some people
appear to look “normal” their mental capability may be lacking. Additionally, the
focus of the ADA is on all people who have any kind of impairment, not on how
bad the disability is or is not. Many of the requirements for building codes
and accessibility are now enforced due to the ADA.  As an example, sidewalks have a slight slope
at crosswalk areas.  This is to allow
someone in a wheelchair to have easier access for crossing the street.  There are also raised bumps at these areas.  These are for blind people who are using a
walking cane.  These bumps signify being
at the crosswalk and going any further is a traffic area.  This is a safety measure for someone who cannot
see, but who can hear the traffic approaching. 
The ADA wants to do what they can in order to keep people of all
disabilities safe and protected.


        The original agency involved
implementing the ADA policy is the National Council on Disability Members and
Staff (NCD, 2007). There are currently several agencies within the government
involved in the ongoing policy practices. Some of the governing bodies involved
were the United States Senate, House of Representatives, Committee on Education
and Labor, and Committee on Labor and Human Resources. Eventually, these
committees and agencies came together to formulate the original Americans with
Disabilities Act. This Act became law on July 26, 1990, signed by President
George H.W. Bush. More agencies became involved once the ADA was up and
running. Living constitutionalism is how we would explain this concept. As we
grow as a society, our needs as are constantly evolving. There are currently
eight federal agencies in charge of implementing the ADA. The agencies that
have since been added include the US Department of Justice (DOJ), US Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), US Access Board, US Department of Labor,
US Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Communications Commission (FCC),
US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and finally the Federal
Emergency Management Agency. Each agency has their own area of responsibility.
The Department of Justice focuses on issues involving service animals, voting
accessibility, and disability friendly technology. The US Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) assists with employment regulations. This
includes but is not limited to reasonable accommodations for the disabled, and
performance standards. The US Access Board aims their focus on technical
assistance. This includes help over the phone, as well as pictures and
illustrations. As an example, many businesses offer a TTY phoneline for the
deaf. TTY stands for Text Telephone; however, another term for this is TDD
which stands for Telecommunication Device for the Deaf. The US Department of
Labor covers a very broad spectrum of employment issues. The main purpose is to
ensure fairness and equal opportunity for the disabled to have gainful
employment. The Department of Transportation ensures people with disabilities
have accessible public transportation. Public transit buses are equipped for
those who have a physical disability. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
aims their focus on telecommunications. The FCC wants to make sure that as our
technology is evolving, the technology for the disabled is evolving as well. The
US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prevents discrimination
for a disabled person to buy or rent a home due to their disability. HUD also
seeks reasonable accommodations to assist the disabled, such as a wheel chair
ramp. Federal Emergency Management Agency focuses their attention on ensuring
the disabled are not forgotten in case of a disaster. They help provide
emergency preparedness, sign language interpreters, and deaf interpreters.
There are numerous agencies involved because there is such a wide range of


        Funding for the ADA program is via the
United States Government. It is one of the services to which our tax dollars
are applied.  The government’s fiscal
year budget is not established for one single line item that specifically states
a dedicated amount for the ADA.  It is
funded through the
various other agencies such as the DOJ, EEOC, DOT, and FCC. There are federal
grants available for different purposes, such as programs to help children with
disabilities or additional educational services. Grants can also be awarded to
cities or counties for a variety of improvements within their own area. The
federal laws govern the ADA, but do not pay for the expenses to bring local
businesses or government agencies within compliance. These grants can help to
lessen the expenses for individuals and businesses. Unfortunately, many
individuals with a specific issue will need to fund their specific project on
their own.  A medical issue may unexpectedly
render a person disabled and needing to use a wheelchair.  In order to get in and out of their own home,
a wheelchair ramp may need to be built and installed. Vehicles can also be
altered to accommodate different disabilities as a personal expense.  Local churches or civic groups may step in
and assist with the required labor and expenses.  The federal government has established laws
that state and local governments must follow. 
It is up to the state and local officials to determine funding for their
areas.  ****


        Disabilities can impact
every age, race, ethnicity, and socio-economic group. In 2015, statistics
showed that 12.6% of people in the United States have a disability (NIDILRR,
11). Many of the disabled are able to lead functional and independent lives
with minimal assistance. The ADA provides reassurance that they are given the
same opportunities as those without any disability. For children, their
disability impacts their families as well as themselves. Families can always
use assistance to help their child flourish. There are so many variables that
apply to the disabled it impacts every age group everywhere. Disabilities can
literally impact anyone; therefore, it is not limited to only one specific
demographic. “In 2015, of the US population with disabilities, over half
(51.1%) were people in the working ages of 18-64, while 41.2% were 65 and
older” (NIDILRR 8). Although some disabilities are noticed at birth, others may
be developed later in life. For example, if an elderly person were to have a
stroke, they may no longer be able to walk on their ow. Suddenly there is a
need for wheelchair access in their home plus learning to navigate within the


      In 1988, the ADA was originally
introduced to Congress; however, it was not until 1990 that the ADA was passed.
The following year, Title I, Title II, Title III and Title IV were all brought
into light. Title I is focused on employment: all disabled persons receive the
same equal chances that all persons without disabilities receive. With this
said, a company may have to make accommodations to make this possible. Title II
affects both the state and local government. It states that no person with a
disability may be discriminated against. If a disabled person meets all of the
requirements, no programs may deny them solely on the fact that they have a
disability. Title III focuses on nondiscrimination from privately owned places
that serve the public. Title IV concentrates on the telecommunications, meaning
all telephone and internet companies must be able to help those with
disabilities over the phone.  In 1992,
Title I, II, and III were all deemed effective. Title IV was effective in 1993
(ADATA). There were various court issues from 1999-2002 involving the ADA,
which led in 1994 to the National Council on Disability seeking Congress to
reinstate the ADA as originally intended. There was belief some Supreme Court
rulings interfered with the ADA’s original purpose. In 2008 George W. Bush
signed the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) which gave disabled citizens more
protection from discrimination.  There
have been additional updates in both 2010 and 2011 for transportation issues,
and in 2013 with the EEOC.  In 2015, the
ADA celebrated it’s 25th anniversary. 

policy impacts the millions with disabilities as well as family members,
friends, and caregivers.  It empowers the
disabled adult to live as independently as possible. For families, it helps
provide much needed assistance for improved quality of daily living functions.
The government recognized this issue years ago and continues to make necessary
adjustments to help as many disabled citizens as possible.



National Network, Retrieved November 25, 2017, from

Bureau, U.C. (2011, July 26) Latest U.S. Disability
Statistics and Facts. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from

EEOC Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2017,

2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium Errata.
(n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from