July 18, 2017

Realizing the Promise of the ADA

Twenty-seven years after it was signed into law, people are still running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The landmark legislation, signed on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities, and assures equal opportunity and access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.

However, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights division, many businesses and local governments are not in full compliance, and their programs and services are still not accessible to people with disabilities. Following are some reasons why some local government agencies and businesses are still not ADA compliant:

  1. They  mistakenly believe their existing programs and facilities are protected by a “grandfather” clause, so they don’t take steps to provide facility or program access or modify the policies, practices and procedures required by law
  2. They mistakenly believe that they have no duty to make changes to historically significant buildings and facilities (or to the programs offered there) to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
  3. They feel they “can’t afford to do the right thing,” as portrayed in the DOJ’s video, “Ten Small Business Mistakes.”  In reality, there are many relatively low-cost things businesses and governments can do to improve accessibility.


The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities and prohibits discrimination because of a disability. Reasonable accommodations include restructuring jobs, making workstations accessible, re-designing worksites, and modifying schedules, equipment and policies.

A U.S. Department of Labor survey reported that finding ways to return employees to work after the onset of a disability is the number one challenge to retaining employees with disabilities for medium and large companies. For small companies, it is the actual cost of the accommodations.

Putting the ADA to work

The goals of the ADA will not be realized if the law isn’t enforced. Local governments and businesses can rely on the ADA National Network and the Job Accommodation Network to help them comply with the law and fulfill the ADA’s promise of inclusion and participation.

Individuals who must quit working due to a disability can look to empower by Allsup® to help them with their SSDI claim, explain their ADA rights, and prepare them to return to work if they are medically able.

It has been 27 years since the ADA was signed into law, and we still have a lot of work to do to fulfill its promise. You can be a part of the nationwide ADA celebration by clicking here to sign a pledge to continue efforts to fully implement the ADA.

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