Americans with Disabilities Act in the spotlight during October

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, bringing to light disability employment issues and celebrating the many and varied contributions of America’s workers and disabilities. This year’s theme is aptly named “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task,” and this is particularly relevant because nearly one in every five Americans has a disability. Wisconsin residents who have a medical impairment are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and discrimination against them in the workplace is prohibited.

Roughly 79 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed. However, the ADA protects the rights of anyone with a disability, providing them with legal leverage in society to work and participate equally. Unfortunately, legislation cannot ensure the acquisition of a job.

Society as a whole is starting to understand the importance of equal rights for all when it comes to those with disabilities. Barriers are beginning to break down, and limitations are now viewed as strengths. Nevertheless, many people still maintain the antiquated mindset that a disability is a deficit — which can be a pitfall for anyone with a disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) includes provisions designed to define disability as broadly as possible in order to protect individuals as a matter of the law. If anyone with a disability is discriminated against in the workplace, they can take action and defend their rights. The ADA, which was enacted in 1990, prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who are, were or are perceived as disabled. Disabled individuals in Wisconsin can file a complaint and protect their rights in the event of discrimination.

Source: times-standard.com, Disabled Americans need more job opportunities, not pity, Chris Jones, Oct. 9, 2013

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