The degree of civilization of any society is mainly determined by its attitude regarding the persona with disabilities. Creating conditions for education and study, offering social and professional support and the social integration of these persons represent a main objective of any state and of the world’s community, in general.
The actuality of the theme is that the problem related to persons with disabilities, which represent a category of population with a clear disadvantage compared to other categories of people, is still one of the major problems. It can be solved only through the common effort of all people with good faith from all the social areas: political, social, business, science, culture.
Without neglecting the medical or psychological dimensions of a person with disabilities, this is mostly a social phenomenon, as it manifests especially through social interactions. The handicap involves the exploration of a perspective of theories, paradigms or sociological concepts.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The human rights are respected as long as they are known and respected. It is necessary that any individual to realize the existence of his own rights and to respect the other’s rights. The state is forced to elaborate and to apply a national policy of development, which would give the possibility of a constant growth of the entire population, of all individuals, without any discrimination.
One of the major problems is the protection and the applicability of the persons with disabilities rights, persons who are considered by many a problem of the entire society.
Before the 90’s, when ADA ( Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, a physical or mental impairment was considered a:
“Preordained fate, a divine stigma incurred at birth, or a result of individual moral flaws and self-destructive habits such as criminality, alcoholism, and sexual promiscuity.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 offers protection against discrimination in all areas of applicability, being a wide-ranging civil rights law.
ADA defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The Act was conceived by more than a hundred groups dedicated to disability rights, civil rights, and social justice.
“I know there may have been concerns that the ADA may be too vague or too costly, or may lead endlessly to litigation. But I want to reassure you right now that my administration and the United States Congress have carefully crafted this Act. We’ve all been determined to ensure that it gives flexibility, particularly in terms of the timetable of implementation; and we’ve been committed to containing the costs that may be incurred…. Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” (George. H. W. Bush)
ADA is divided into 5 titles; each title is focused on a certain situation that is part of any person with disabilities.
The first title concerns the professional field of those who have disabilities and their rights at the work place, including statements regarding job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, hiring, job training, bonuses and compensation, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee.
The second title forbids social discrimination, covering access to all programs and services offered by the public entities. It also refers to public transportation provided by public entities through regulations by the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
The third title of ADA (which represents the best the civil rights laws of persons with disabilities) includes facilities for persons with disabilities, such as transportation, systems, hotels, restaurants, theatres, auditoriums, retail stores, service establishments, museums, parks, and zoos, social service centers, like daycares, and gyms or places of exercise.
The persons concerned should have full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.
It also makes references to the existing facilities, which must be modified or altered in order to fit to those who have psychical or physical disabilities.
Unfortunately, many public or private institutes may not be bound by Title III. The menu of the restaurants still don’t have a duplicate written in Brail for blind people and some clubs or religious organizations have arguments, claiming that such facilities would affect the architecture of the building.
The fourth title added a new section to the landmark Communications Act of 1934, claiming for special telecommunication facilities for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and those with speech impairments.
The fifth title concerns the technical provisions, including an anti retaliation or coercion provision.
“III-3.6000 Retaliation or coercion. Individuals who exercise their rights under the ADA, or assist others in exercising their rights, are protected from retaliation. The prohibition against retaliation or coercion applies broadly to any individual or entity that seeks to prevent an individual from exercising his or her rights or to retaliate against him or her for having exercised those rights . . . Any form of retaliation or coercion, including threats, intimidation, or interference, is prohibited if it is intended to interfere with the exercise of rights under the ADA.” (The Technical Assistance Manual for the ADA)
Voices from the Edge: Narratives about the Americans with Disabilities Act by Ruth O’Brien