Providing for the disabled

The disabled, through either deformity at birth, accident, or illness, are considered one of the more vulnerable populations in most societies.

In the United States, the federal government has been very active helping the cause of the disabled population through the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA was enacted in 1990, with the intention of improving the living conditions of the disabled by ensuring they have access to employment, accommodations in private and public establishments and access to telecommunications. The goal of this legislation is for all individuals with disabilities to be afforded protection against possible discriminations.   The ADA has allowed members of the disabled population to adapt to the workplace and has provided access to areas where hidden barriers previously prevented the disabled from access to many public and private services.

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In many instances, there have been problems with enforcement of and compliance with the legislation. These problems are more apparent in the area of employment. Many employers are not educated, or sufficiently cognizant, regarding the compliance requirements of the ADA even when they have good intentions. In addition, unfortunately, there are several employers who due to ignorance are unwilling to comply with ADA requirement because of the unfair perception and bias disabled employees can’t perform as well as more able-bodied workers.

The ADA provides a good foundation for allowing the disabled to obtain gainful employment and have access to everything in their communities with no physical barriers whenever possible. These goals can be accomplished as long as there is a willingness to comply with the law, and the willingness of the community to free itself from biases against the disabled or handicapped as unhealthy people. Thousands of people are made disabled by prior illnesses, and although disabled in some ways functionally are quite healthy. Most people tend to give the disable grudging sympathy, while what the disabled need is acceptance.

In most instances, the disabled are denied access or opportunity only because their basic needs are misunderstood. For example, some employers may assume disabled applicants will require a lot of expensive accommodations when what they only need is ramp access to enter the workplace which can be easily and economically provided.

Disabled persons must be aware of their rights and speak out when necessary. When it comes to employment, employers should try to understand the needs of the disabled candidate and recognize they can be as much an asset in the workplace as other employees.

Businesses need to think of this subset of customers being as valuable as their other customers and provide the access they need in order to take advantage of the services being provided.

Disability is most time only a physical handicap, not a contagious illness.

Copyright 2017 – Caribbean National Weekly News

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