The Significance of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Disabled persons are those people who are physically or mentally impaired. Due to this, they are faced with hardships in carrying their normal day to day activities which in most times requires special attention from the people surrounding them. Due to this, the disabled persons are seen as burdens to the society which is supposed to protect and care for them. This results to discrimination which in its self goes against the societal morals of protecting the underprivileged. This denies the persons the chance to compete and contribute to the growth and development of the economy considering the large number of people with disability in America consisting of approximately 15% of the total population (Colker 2005). It is with that spirit that many governments have taken action by passing laws to protect the disabled persons. This essay is a critical evaluation on the persons with disability predicaments and the Americans with disability act.

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Americans with Disabilities

Disability is not inability. This means that disabled persons just like the other normal human beings, given equal chances in the society can compete for jobs and take care of themselves. However, this is not the case in most societies and this prompted the United States of America to pass an act aimed at protecting these people from the society. The act was passed in 1990 by then US president and it had well set guidelines defining categorically who a disabled person is and it excludes employees who are alcoholic (Colker 2005). According to the act, “a disabled person is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history of such impairment, or a person perceived by others as having such impairment” (Blanck et al 2005). All employers, those from the government or private corporations are prohibited from discriminating qualified persons with disability while deciding on matters concerning job operations i.e. hiring, firing, promotions etc. They are therefore required to act with uniformity while exercising their authority without showing favoritism to those employees that are not disabled over those with disability. The act exercises it power on all the employers who have more than 15 employees.

The main beneficiaries of this act are the employees with disability. This is due to the fact that they are the ones being protected from employers who without its existence would have created unnecessary obstacles that would have made it hard for the disabled to get decent employment. The salaries and wages earned by these people were also lower than that of temporarily able bodied employees (Weber et al 2007). Through the act, several field offices to deal with cases of discrimination were set up across 50 cities to enable the victims to report cases and receive justice. The state and other government authorities on their part were required to enhance the accessibility of all buildings by designing user friendly buildings that would not restrict movement of the physically disabled persons.

Through its enforcement, the employers are protected from hiring or receiving claims from unqualified employees with disability due to the fact that the act does not promote unqualified employees in acquiring professional jobs (Blanck et al 2005). As such, the employers are relieved of the responsibility of answering to claims that may arise from such people. The employers are also given necessary technical assistance to help them in dealing with issues relating to ADA. The ADA also provided an efficient conflict resolution mechanism that helps the employers to avoid making judgments that may end up being costly. Through this, harmony between the employees and employers is maintained.

Before the passing of the act in 1990, employees with disability experienced low representation in the management and decision making in the organizations and companies they worked for. They also received poor remuneration and treatment as compared to their counter parts in the same workplaces. This lowered their morale thus leading to low productivity and wastage of opportunity by employers to utilize the gifted brains. The enactment of the act significantly changed the perception the employers and other people had on disability. They learnt to accept the unfortunate persons and accommodate them into the job market not out of sympathy but through recognizing their potential and credibility (U.S. Department of Education 2008). Persons with disability now enjoy equal privileges in their places of work, proper remuneration and treatment. However, the process of acquiring justice for those discriminated against is tedious and proper measures still need to be taken to improve the process of dispensing justice.


The Americans with disability act which was passed in 1990 by the then president Bush was major step towards protecting persons with disability. The main aim of its legislation was to accord these persons with a platform to air their grievances and to protect them from oppression by employers. Before its legislation, the disabled persons faced many challenges that included discrimination while soliciting for jobs and poor salaries below that of the other employees. Hiring and firing of these persons was done in a questionable manner which was not based on qualifications but in a discriminative manner. Even after its enactment, disabled persons still continue to face challenges though not in the same magnitude as before. This is due to the process of acquiring justice which is tedious and takes a long time to complete.


Blanck D., Braddock D. (2005). The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Emerging

Workforce Amer Assn

Colker R. (2005). The Disability Pendulum: The First Decade of the Americans with Disabilities

Act, New York University Press

U.S. Department of Education (2008) ADA Business Connections, Retrieved September 26, 2009

from <>

Weber, Mark C. (2007) Disability Harassment. NYU Press



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