July 26th we celebrated the 21st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I shared this with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter and to my surprise, not many of them acknowledged or even “liked” my status. I have to admit, due to my job and personal reasons, I have become more knowledgeable about the ADA. Today, I’m sharing the basics to remind others how the ADA affects our daily lives and employment.
Sometimes, we overlook the brick and mortar part of the ADA and do not realize the things that affect our daily lives. Here are some of the accessibility related modifications that I enjoy and benefit from:
I appreciate the effects of the ADA when bike riding or walking my girls around the neighborhood. The curb cuts and better sidewalks allow the girls and me to move through the neighborhood easily with our bikes and stroller. This is good for any family, but it is important for those in wheelchairs or walkers.
When entering supermarkets, offices, and other federal/public businesses, many places have moved to a “universal design.” The law requires that walking spaces must be at least 36” wide, which is not only good for individuals with mobility issues, but also for those with non-visible disabilities.
Let’s not forget building entrances. You might not notice it every day, but we have the no-step entries and even ramps are required when the buildings do have steps. When dragging around two children and strollers at the mall, supermarket, or restaurants, I enjoy these accommodations.
And how about those wide aisles at the supermarket? I have noticed myself complaining when things do not move fast enough in those wide aisles and failed to remember that once upon a time that space and accessibility was not the norm.
Finally, are the oversized accessible bathrooms in public venues. I have felt guilty for using the last accessible stall, but as a mom I have found it very convenient to fit in everything I am toting!
I know these things are not in place for my convenience and realize that for many other people, it makes a huge difference and is a necessity. I share this to encourage you to look around–you never know, we might have to use it for its intended purposes one day and we will be glad they are there.
This is great, what about employment?
The Americans with Disabilities Act is an anti-discrimination law. It is supposed to protect people with disabilities and ensure equal access. For job seekers and employers it is important to highlight Title I of the ADA.
Title I of the ADA, prohibits discrimination in employment and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities; employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees.
Things to Consider
• The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is nearly double the non-disabled population (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
• Individuals with disabilities still fear disclosing their disability due to individual’s attitudes.
Bringing awareness to this topic is my intent. I know there are many strong advocates that agree that some things are improving, but discrimination against people with disabilities in employment is still rampant. Unfortunately, attitudes are something that cannot be protected under the ADA nor be legislated. So, while you walk around today or tomorrow, affected or not affected by the ADA, I hope I have shed some light on how the ADA helps us move around and compete easier in today’s world. There is still so much to be done, and attitude is key! October is National Disability Employment Month.
Claudia Magallan is the Disability Navigator for Workforce Solutions Workforce Solutions- Gulf Coast ensuring that customers with disabilities utilize all the services offered by Workforce Solutions. She has over six years of experience building relationships in the Houston Community and working with job seekers with barriers to employment.