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24 years after ADA passage, there is still much work to do

This weekend will mark the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This important piece of legislation fundamentally changed the way that our country accommodates the needs of those with disabilities. It also removed barriers of access to employment, at least on paper.

Unfortunately, disability discrimination is still a problem. Highly educated and well-trained individuals are often passed over for jobs because employers cannot see past their wheelchair or other visible signs that they are different than other workers.

Disability discrimination may be one reason why certain individuals feel compelled to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income even though they have the ability to work certain jobs. According to a recent opinion piece written by a disability rights advocate, about 80 percent of Americans with disabilities do not work. It seems safe to assume that some would choose to work if potential employers had been willing to hire them.

The author, a woman named Lauren Scrivo, knows from personal experience that in order to get hired, individuals with disabilities have a number of “attitudinal roadblocks” to overcome. It is not enough to be as qualified as other, able-bodied candidates. Scrivo says that those with disabilities have to be better than most. This unfair double standard still exists, and it is up to all of us to dismantle it.

The passage of the ADA changed the American landscape for those with disabilities, both literally and figuratively. We now have important accommodations including wheelchair ramps, elevators and disability parking, just to name a few. But in order to realize the full potential of the ADA, we must also remove the prejudices and negative attitudes that stand in the way of full social equality.

Source: NJ.com, "Why more people with disabilities are not working: Opinion," Lauren Scrivo, July 24, 2014

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