Posted: August 12th, 2013
The Americans with disabilities act is a federal civil rights law that was passed by President George W. Bush in 1990. It was created mainly to protect people with disabilities by prohibiting any form of discrimination against them. According to the Act, disability is defined as any physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities in an affected person’s life. As a law, it ensures that persons with disabilities are entitled to all the rights accorded to other people who do not suffer from disability based on race, color, sex, nationality, age and religion. It guarantees equality among all people in terms of opportunities for services in both State and local government
The act has five titles that specify the areas or points of frequent discrimination against people with disabilities. The first title seeks to bar discriminative actions against such persons in the employment sector. For as long as a person with a disability is qualified, then he or she is entitled to a chance at employment together with all the benefits accrued to other employed persons. A qualification in this case refers to skills needed to perform a certain job. Discrimination under this title may include not adjusting facilities used and making them accessible to persons with disability, and restricting particular jobs from them even though they are qualified.
The second title prevents discrimination against the use of public services and transportation. This means that such persons are not to be denied the use of these public entities because of their condition. The third title focuses on public accommodation and services. It states that such persons should be left to enjoy these provisions for as long as they are able to, just like other people not affected by disability. The fourth title is about telecommunications and dictates that measures should be taken by stakeholders in this sector to ensure that people with disability get functional services in line with their disability. The last title offers technical provisions such as factors that can override or change anything in the Act. It mainly targets those that act contrary to this act.
This Act is about trying to protect the civil rights of all Americans. It is obvious that the people it targets are not only disabled persons but also those whom the disability affects both directly and indirectly. However, the main beneficiaries of this Act are persons with disabilities. It aims at making the lives of persons with disability better by ensuring that no one gets away with violating any of their rights. Although the Act touches on many aspects, it is driven by the notion that such persons are vulnerable to discrimination from unaffected persons. The titles in it have served as a pointer on areas where this discrimination mostly takes place. I therefore think that the Act has helped make those it seeks to protect feel valued and recognized by the government.
Over the years, various criticisms have arisen in an effort to try to derail the functionality of the Act, but most of it is in vain. This is because the federal government having been responsible for overseeing the passing of the act into law, has not relented in its cause. It has done everything possible to assert its firm position on the matter. The American government does so through its institutions such as the Supreme Court and various State Departments. The organization is therefore working tirelessly to implement the law.
Each provision in the Act is enforced by different federal agencies. For instance, the first title is enforced mainly by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Anyone who has been discriminated against in the employment sector is required to file a complaint to this agency. Over the years, it has been seen acting upon numerous cases successfully including those filed by persons with disabilities. Such persons often receive compensation or the accused person is ordered to act in line with the recommendations of the Americans with disabilities Act.
Another one of the federal agencies that assist in the enactment of the law is the U.S. Department of Justice. It has helped individuals with disabilities mainly through cases that are filed in its courts. Such cases include lawsuits and settled agreements. Through such cases, the department manages to acquire fines and penalties that aid in compensating the victims of discrimination, especially under title two of the Act. This department also provides means of access for people trying to file complaints. This is highly effective as it gives an opportunity to every aggrieved person to seek justice.
The US Department of Justice is responsible for enforcement through state and local government entities, more so those that are not assigned to a specific agency. In conjunction with the department of transportation, it enforces title two of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This department works to ensure nondiscriminatory transport services in line with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. So far, they have achieved much in their mission having recently proposed introduction of circulars to guide transport providers in ensuring they meet the department’s requirements on regulations of Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Department of Justice is also responsible for implementing title three, making sure that accommodation facilities meet the Act’s standards for accessible design. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforces the fourth title of the Act. They ensure that communication apparatus are made in such a way to enable persons with a disability to use them effectively. The last title deals with how the Act other federal laws in that its implementation should not collide with that of other laws.
These explanations offer my interpretation of this Act including how I see it being implemented to benefit those it was intended to protect. It is through the channels mentioned above that the details of the Americans with Disabilities Act is put into practice. This information is publicly available as a method of transparency exercised by the federal government. However, the change as prescribed in the Act as regards the way we treat disabled persons begins with us as individuals. We should endeavor to follow this law and help the government to enact it.
We can do so by acting in the manner suggested by the Act and not contrary to it. In so doing, we are helping to make life comfortable for persons with disability. In addition, federal agencies do not have a tough time enforcing the law and wasting time on lawsuits and settlements. My understanding of the Act is that it aims at setting certain standards as regards protection of civil rights of the American citizens without discrimination. These standards are not just to be used locally, but also internationally to shape the way people perceive America as a country spearheading reforms. The Americans with Disabilities Act therefore manages to fulfill that which it was intended in as far as my interpretation is concerned.
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