Equal Treatment Equal Access: Raising Awareness About People With Disabilities

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Equal Treatment, Equal Access: Raising Awareness About People With Disabilities and Their Struggle for Equal Rights By Layne Weichselbaum

Starting in the 1960s people with various kinds of disabilities (physical and mental

handicaps, along with visual- and hearing- impairments) and different essential needs came

together to fight for a common cause. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act became a

law, and it provided comprehensive civil right protection for people with disabilities. Americans

who have disabilities account for “roughly 50 million people” An individual with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment
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Otherwise talented and eligible

people with disabilities were shut out of opportunities for meaningful work. “most individuals

with disabilities were not able to go about their daily lives independently outside

their homes.”

Disability rights activists mobilized on the local level demanding national initiatives to address

the physical and social barriers facing the disability community. Parent advocates were at the

forefront, demanding that their children be taken out of institutions and asylums, and placed into

schools where their children could have the opportunity to engage in society just like children

who were not disabled. In the 1970s, disability rights activists lobbied Congress and marched on

Washington to include civil rights language for people with disabilities into the 1972

Rehabilitation Act. In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act was passed, and for the first time in history,

civil rights of people with disabilities were protected by law.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) provided equal opportunity for
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In recent years, the majority of complaints involve

sidewalks and curb ramps, and crosswalks.

The American with Disabilities Act is composed of three titles. The ADA Title I is the employment title. It requires that employers not discriminate against individuals who, with reasonable accommodations, can perform essential duties for the job in question. Title II addresses the right for people with disabilities to have equal access to programs, activities, and services that are offered by the public. Title II broadens the coverage that already exists under
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This section prohibits organizations receiving federal financial aid from discriminating on the basis of disability. “Because most branches of state or local government receive federal financial assistance, ADA Title II and Section 504 go hand and hand.” Finally, Title III protects from discrimination and requires proper accessibility in public places, such as lodging, government buildings, restaurants, healthcare establishments, and places of recreation and leisure. With title III, amenities such as handicapped parking
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