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The National Disability Policy: A Progress Report (November 1, 1997-October 31, 1998) (1999) (137 K) is a thorough report whose message is less than encouraging.
Quotes from President Bush when he signed ADA into law in 1990:
ADA is powerful in its simplicity. It will ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and so hard. Independence, freedom of choice, control of their lives and the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the right mosaic of the American mainstream.
When you add together federal, state, local and private funds, it cost almost $200 billion annually to support Americans with disabilities, effect, to keep them dependent.
The latter quote clearly underscores the importance of rehabilitation and job accommodation. There is no question the vision is there, but the execution has not been what it could be.
...the rate of progress is slower and less steady than many in the community had hoped when ADA was enacted into law.
For people with disabilities truly to accomplish the vision of ADA, it is critical that the Administration work with leaders in Congress to forge a disability agenda that brings children and adults with disabilities into the mainstream of American life.
The report provides a good summary of government initiatives in providing improved accessibility for those with special needs in the areas of education, transportation, and parks/recreation.
Achieving Independence: The Challenge for the 21st Century (1996) (3 parts: 123 K, 127 K, 139 K).
There has been low progress in the last decade since the passing of the ADA. The statistics remain bad.
'People with disabilities want to work.' But there are many barriers, many economic disincentives.
Most disabilities onset in adulthood—no one is immune.
The aging of the "Baby Boomers" will inevitably create a "disability crunch" over the next few decades.
There is a strong need for work incentives—not unlike the situation with welfare. The system should not be set up to disincentivize those with the will and initiative to work.
There are serious health care limitations, especially with HMOs that are "risk adjusted." Translation: If proper care and opportunities for those with special needs is at the discretion of a system that penalizes doctors for thorough practice of their profession, we are all in deep trouble!
There is a positive trend toward de-institutionalization and an accompanying move to ACLF (Adult Congregate Living Facility) type solutions.
People with disabilities have always been excluded from the bounty of our nation's resources. Minorities with disabilities, in particular, have been the most disenfranchised of the disenfranchised. It is time that we bring them into the fold as full, first-class participants in our society.Hon. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, National Rainbow Coalition
The report substantiates the Jackson quote with specific data on the many issues that make disability even more limiting for minorities than for the rest of the population, and offers specific recommendations on how the inequities may be redressed.
We, in the U.S., are faced with a dilemma of staggering seriousness. Our minority citizens with disabilities are born identified as a minority within a minority. They suffer and are ignored. They are disenfranchised, discriminated against, and are dying physically and spiritually; they are hungry, unclothed, unemployed, unsheltered, and completely unaware of the quality of life which is their constitutional right and guarantee.Eva P. Britt, J.D.
How can our nation in good conscience permit such a condition to continue?
Job accommodations for workers with disabilities must be worked on a case-by-case basis. No two cases are the same.
The ADA establishes that the employer must "reasonably accommodate" employees with disabilities. What governs reasonableness varies with the size of the employer; obviously, larger companies are in a position to make more extensive accommodations than are small enterprises.
Cost can be a factor; court cases have established precedent that the level of expectation for degree of accommodation depends on the company's resources.
Workers can contact ADA directly at 1-800-ADA-WORK.
Job accommodation decisions are handled by a committee that includes representatives from Medical, Human Resources, EEO, and Legal.
A useful Web site is available at the OFCCP...the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Guidelines: With the increasing trend toward computer-based education (CBE) for employee certification and re-certification programs, it has become imperative for employers to provide assistance devices for visually and hearing impaired employees who would otherwise be prevented from maintaining current job certifications. This is of particular importance in government contracting.
Asked what her hardest single job accommodation case was, the Disabilities Manager replied that it involved the special transportation needs of an employee with visual impairment whose specialized skills were required at a remote site that could only be accessed by driving a car. Accommodation was too costly, yet the risk of liability was equally great. The eventual solution was for the employee to drive himself, within the restrictions of a valid vehicle operator's license. Where those restrictions could not be met, an escort was provided. In that manner, the employee had optimum freedom, risk was controlled, the job got done, and the company was not exposed.
Send comments, questions, and suggestions to the A-SIG Co-Managers directly:
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