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Life Before The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was the result of a movement by the disabled population in the mid-eighties. I did some research about this because I grew up in the 70’s and the 80’s. When I was a child back then, I didn’t know what was going on politically. I was just being a kid who was into Legos and cars and trucks. What I have learned will blow your mind because it was really difficult for people with disabilities because they were looked upon as being hopeless and just were living at home. This is how bad it was.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The first real change was made when the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  It is mostly referred to as the Rehab Act. This act was to prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in the federal programs. The act has several sections to it and some of the sections were passed, but Congress was delaying passing some of the sections. Section 504 was not passed until April of 1977. It took about four years to be passed.

What is Section 504 for?

This section is huge. It made that housing would be built so that people with disabilities could live on their own. The buildings have to be designed for wheelchairs. Another thing that this section included was that universities and colleges had to accept people with disabilities. This video that I watched had a man who had a disability. He was actually denied acceptance into college because he was a person with a disability. Denied solely on the basis that he was a person with a disability and nothing more. It is hard to believe that this was the case during my lifetime.


Back in those days, if you were a person with a disability and saw an ad for a job that you were qualified and went in to apply for the job, but the owner said no way that he would hire you. You thought that you would file a complaint at the courthouse. You just would have found that the courthouse did not take your complaint at all. Again this was how bad it was. It was discrimination to the core.

Then came the ADA.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 25, 1990, by George Bush. Again this act was delayed just like the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. When that happened, the disability society had sit-ins” around the country and some climbed 101 steps at the Capitol in Washington DC. Some people blocked in the head of the transportation in New York City because they could not ride the buses or trains.

What did the Americans with Disabilities Act do?

First thing was to give people with disabilities an opportunity to work. Second, it enforces all public transportation to be accessible for everybody. Third, it enforces the telecommunication industries to be equipped for people who are hard of hearing. Fourth, it enforces all public buildings to be accessible.

Did society followed through with the ADA?

Some of the points in the act were implemented really well and some were not. The biggest failure of the act was employment by far. In the video that I watched it said that 82.4% of people with disabilities are not working. 36% of people without a disability are not working. Another statistic is 21.8% of adults with a disability are living below the poverty level versus 12.8% of persons without a disability. This data is from the United States Census Bureau in 2013 and from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014.

Are you in shock yet?

These data should be alarming for all of us. What should we do to try to change this? I will be doing more posts on this subject, but I need your input too. This can not be changed by me alone. It needs all of you to speak on this blog and write your Congress person. They might not know this information like I have given you. So please comment here and spread the message to your family and friends.

Americans with Disability Act has improved our lives with disabilities, but we still have a lot to do.

3 Replies to “Life Before The Americans with Disabilities Act”

    1. For starter – accessible transportation, public buildings have to be accessible. People with disabilities need employment although, it has not been improved.

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