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History: Legislation

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1968 - The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 is passed. It "requires that buildings and facilities that are designed, constructed, or altered with Federal funds, or leased by a Federal agency, comply with Federal standards for physical accessibility. ABA requirements are limited to architectural standards in new and altered buildings and in newly leased facilities. They do not address the activities conducted in those buildings and facilities. Facilities of the U.S. Postal Service are covered by the ABA."[1]


1984 - The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act is passed. It "requires polling places across the United States to be physically accessible to people with disabilities for federal elections. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, a political subdivision must provide an alternate means of casting a ballot on the day of the election." [2] This law also requires states to make registration and voting aids available for disabled and elderly voters (e.g., TDDs / TTYs, instructions in large type). [3]


1986 - The Air Carrier Access Act is signed. It "prohibits discrimination in air transportation by domestic and foreign air carriers against qualified individuals with physical or mental impairments. Requirements address a wide range of issues including boarding assistance and certain accessibility features in newly built aircraft and new or altered airport facilities." [4] [5]


1988 - The Fair Housing Act, originally passed in 1968 as part of the Civil Rights Act and prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of race, religion, etc., was amended in 1988 to also cover disability. As amended, the Act "prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing." [6]


1990 - The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is signed into law by President George H. W. Bush.


1996 - The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is passed. Sections 255 and 251(a)(2) of the act "require manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. These amendments ensure that people with disabilities will have access to a broad range of products and services such as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call-waiting, and operator services, that were often inaccessible to many users with disabilities." [7]


1998 - President William J. Clinton signed the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Its purpose is to train underserved and underemployed populations, such as people with disabilities, for entry into the workforce. This Act is also known as Public Law 105-220.


2001 - President Bush announced the New Freedom Initiative as part of a nationwide effort to "ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to learn and develop skills, engage in productive work, make choices about their daily lives and participate fully in community life. The Initiative's goals are to: increase access to assistive and universally designed technologies; expand educational opportunities; promote homeownership; integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce; expand transportation options; and promote full access to community life." [8]


2002 -

  • The court decision from Chevron v. Echazabal affirmed the right of employers to refuse hiring someone if the work poses a danger to that person’s health.
  • A unanimous vote by the U.S. Supreme Court on Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Inc. v. Williams further defined which types of impairment are considered a ‘disability’ under the ADA. It was ruled that certain impairments – in this case, carpal tunnel syndrome - was not covered under ADA since it did not “substantially limit a major life activity”.


2004 - The [Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (AT Act)] is enacted. Administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), this act is intended to improve the provision of assistive technology to individuals with disabilities through comprehensive statewide programs of technology-related assistance.


2007 - A California federal district court ruled in National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation that websites of public business and services, such as target.com, must be made accessible to all users under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The landmark class action suit was brought on behalf of blind Internet users. Previously, since the ADA was written prior to wide use of the Internet, only 'brick and morter' (physical) places of business were required to be accessible.


2008 - The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) is enacted. It clarifies what constutues a disability under the ADA and calls for interpretation in favor of broad coverage of individuals.[9]


2010 - The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 is enacted. It's purpose is to update telecommunications protections for people with disabilities by ensuring the accessibility of emerging products (e.g., smart phones) and services (e.g., Internet-based video programming).


2011 - The EEOC's final regulations for the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) are published.[10]


References

  1. A Guide to Disability Rights Laws U.S. Department of Justice. September, 2005. Accessed on February 1, 2008.
  2. http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/cguide.htm#anchor631095
  3. *A Guide to Disability Rights Laws U.S. Department of Justice. September, 2005. Accessed on February 1, 2008.
  4. A Guide to Disability Rights Laws U.S. Department of Justice. September, 2005. Accessed on February 5, 2008.
  5. A Chronology of Dates Significant in the Background, History and Development of the Department of TransportationU.S. Department of Transportation. Accessed on February 5, 2008.
  6. A Guide to Disability Rights Laws U.S. Department of Justice. September, 2005. Accessed on February 4, 2008.
  7. http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/cguide.htm#anchor63109 A Guide to Disability Rights Laws] U.S. Department of Justice. September, 2005. Accessed on February 2, 2008.
  8. New Freedom Initiative
  9. Fact Sheet on the EEOC's Final Regulations Implementing the ADAAA U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. March 25, 2011.
  10. Fact Sheet on the EEOC's Final Regulations Implementing the ADAAA U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. March 25, 2011.