President George Bush’s Legacy- 7 Ways How the ADA Impacts Us Today

President George Bush’s Legacy- 7 Ways How the ADA Impacts Us Today

A little over a week ago, on November 30, 2018, we lost our 41st president. George H.W Bush served as president from 1989-1993, and prior to his presidency, served as vice president from 1981 to 1989. Though we may not agree with all of his policies, the American Disability Act passed during his administration continues to be a major contribution to our society.

The American Disability Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990 and was implemented with the goal of increasing inclusion for persons with disabilities in employment,  telecommunications, public accommodations in both the public and private sector. Most of us, in our everyday interactions, come into contact with some aspect of the ADA, whether we have a disability or not. Here are 7 ways the ADA passed by George H.W. Bush has helped people with disabilities.

Privately Owned…BUT serves the public

Early Civil Rights Laws only covered discrimination by publicly owned facilities.  The ADA prohibits disability discrimination in private businesses that serve the public. This includes places like restaurants and movie theaters.  Prior to this legislation, private businesses did little to make themselves accessible to persons with disabilities.

Disability Discrimination on the Job

Title I of the ADA covers employment discrimination based on disability. Title I covers federal, state and local entities, along with private employers with 15 or more employees. Employers are required to provide accommodations (as long as they do not result in undue burden) and are not allowed to ‘screen’ applicants beforehand. The goal is both to create more diversity in the workplace and also to provide more opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Transportation- Wheelchair Accessible

If you board a MTA bus today, you will find that the buses are wheelchair accessible. In fact, all of New York City’s 5,700 buses are accessible to wheelchair users. We still have quite a way to go towards creating more accessibility in our subway systems and other modes of transportation such as with taxis, Ubers and Lyfts. With the MTA hiring an accessibility officer for the first time ever to combat issues of accessibility around New York City, there is hope that there’ll be even more changes.

Telecommunications- Closed Captioning

Most of us have utilized the function of closed captioning at one time or another. Perhaps you were at a noisy sports bar and couldn’t hear the sports commentators. Title IV of the ADA requires the use of the closed captioning. Closed captioning differs from subtitles in that they assume a viewer can’t hear anything. Closed captioning includes text descriptions of what a viewer should be hearing, such as a ringing of the phone, or an exasperated sigh from an actor.

Handicap Parking

We have now become accustomed to seeing the reserved handicap parking spaces in our everyday interactions- whether we’re going to the bank or shopping for groceries. Section 4.6- Parking and Passenger Loading Zone of the ADA set forth the motions for that to be possible.  It was determined that parking spaces for people with physical disabilities had to be on the quickest route to an entrance and that they couldn’t be on steep slopes. Also required, was that they were appropriately marked as such and were larger than regular parking spaces.

Access to Effective Communication

Going to the hospital to treat a condition can be stressful, whether its for yourself or a loved one. Fortunately with Title II of the ADA, the chances that one will be unable to communicate to health care professionals due to a communication disability, such as blindness or deafness, is decreased. It is a requirement for state and local agencies that a communication method that the individual with the disability prefers, is provided, unless it can be proven that another mode is just as equally effective, or that the preference will result in an undue burden on the agency. Non-profit organizations and businesses that provide services to the public are not required, but are strongly encouraged to abide by the individual’s preferences.

Curb Ramps

Curb ramps have at one point or another made transitioning from the road to the sidewalk easier for you. Whether it was pushing a stroller or pulling along a suitcase. The implementation of curb ramps came primarily from Title II of the ADA to make pedestrian crossings more accessible for people with disabilities. Curb ramps are also required at public transportation stops.

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