Nov 19, 2020 in Politics

Civil Rights

Rights of Disabled People in the United States of America

The sixties were a turning point for the United States in terms of the struggle for civil rights. There have never been adopted so many laws for the protection of civil rights in the entire history of the United States. These laws related to the protection of women's rights, minority rights, voting rights, and the rights of African-Americans. Revolutionary Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964 (Takaki, 1993). However, only few words were said about the disabled. The society did not consider their needs. Only few vague words were said about these people somewhere in 504 section of the Rehabilitation Act. Up until 1973, people with disabilities in America were fighting for recognition of the Rehabilitation Act (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2006).


Approximately 25% of US residents have chronic health problems. Several hundred thousand have the status of persons with disabilities (Stanson, 2006). However, this does not prevent them from living a normal life. While many people in the US support special rights granted to persons with disabilities, some are outraged, calling such privileges unfair.

Disabilities Act guarantees equal treatment of persons with disabilities when applying for a job, using public transport, visiting public and commercial institutions, and telecommunications (in this case, the telephone: all governmental organizations have set up a special phone line for the hearing impaired). In many ways, the law resembles similar laws that prohibit discrimination against women, ethnic and sexual minorities, and people infected with AIDS virus.

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According to the law, public transport must be equipped with special seats that a driver can remove if the bus has a passenger, who is disabled or in a wheelchair. For the same purpose, the bus must be equipped with special lifts. Metro stations should be equipped with elevators. There are special gentle rides specifically designed for wheelchair users in most state and public buildings. All commercial private organizations - banks, restaurants, hotels, and shops - are required to have such races. Exceptions are private companies that do not have direct contact with customers.

Another principle of public policy for people with disabilities is not an obligatory need to have their own special devices, but the ability of the disabled to use services of the organization with the same simplicity as any other person. For example, in case the library has a second floor, it does not have to spend money on a lift. However, if a disabled person requests a book that is located on a second floor, librarians have to bring it. If there are three toilets in a restaurant, only one of which has special adaptations that make the bathroom useable by the disabled, it is not necessary to equip all toilets with similar devices. It is enough to hang the sign, which indicates how to use the toilet for disabled people.

Special laws were enacted to protect the rights of the deaf and the blind. In 1962, US Congress passed special law about the creation of a library of music for the deaf (Disability Rights Center, 2010). Today, the library that is located in Washington, DC, has more than 30 million records written in Braille. Hospitals and courts should employ sign language interpreters for deaf patients. Signs must be provided with inscriptions made ??in Braille designed for blind and visually impaired. Fast food restaurants must have menus printed in Braille with titles of beverages on paper cups. Blind people can come with guide dogs to buses and grocery stores, the places to which the rest of Americans are strictly prohibited to bring pets.

As practice has shown, the costs incurred by private companies for the execution of law are quite modest. A few years ago, one of major retailers, Sears, has analyzed how much 436 innovations made ??in the interests of persons with disabilities cost over 15 years (Bruyere, 2006). As it turned out, 69% of innovations cost a penny, 28% cost less than $ 1 million, and only 3% cost more than $ 1 million.

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According to Census Bureau, 26% of people have severe disabilities in the United States (Brault, 2012). At the same time, studies of DuPont showed that 92% of disabled people who are working in different companies perform better than other employees do (Alaska Works Initiative, n. d.). However, caring for the rights of people with disabilities does not cause dissatisfaction among companies but it does among private individuals. The thing that most people are particularly dissatisfied about is the rule, according to which the disabled who use cars are provided with the most convenient places to park. These places cannot be used by any other drivers. In a country where it is often difficult to find a parking place, parking for disabled people seems to be an unfair luxury. Moreover, it is widely believed that people who do not deserve these places still occupy them. For example, a survey conducted by market research company showed that 15% of the US population knows someone who uses the "disabled" license, though he or she has no physical defects.

Despite the fact that treatment of people with disabilities in the United States is one of the best in the world, American people with disabilities constitute one of the most needy segments of the population in the country. Thus, 46% of them report that they are unable to buy vehicles and other equipment for the disabled. Other 37% miss appointments with doctors because they cannot pay for their services as often as required by their health condition. Moreover, 36% of disabled Americans take medications less than prescribed by the physician to save money or divide each tablet into two parts taking smaller doses. Other 36% save on food, heating their apartments, and other services to afford medications necessary for their disabilities. These findings were revealed in a survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation, which is an independent philanthropic organization in the field of health, which supplies the results of its research to American legislators, the media, and other interested parties (2003). In the report, Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that imperfection of the system of health insurance in the US is felt the most by the disabled.

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Almost 45% of disabled people are afraid of becoming a burden to their families, and about 23% are worried that they will have to live in a nursing home for the disabled (Nosek, 1996). Most people with disabilities agree that if they could get a job, then solving financial problems would be much easier. However, at the same time, they are afraid that if they get employed, they will lose their benefits for medical care they receive from the state. The laws that give disabled people the right to Medicare and other benefits state that the later are available only to people who have a full and irreversible disability. This creates a situation where it is extremely difficult for them to get even the most simple and low-paid jobs.

The system of disability rights provided by Disabilities Act is running successfully. It really brings countries of the world together in an effort to improve the lives of people with physical and mental disabilities. In the summer of 2006, the UN adopted a Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, which is an international treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities around the world. Disabilities Act helps Americans reduce discrimination and encourage employers to create special jobs for disabled people in the United States. The 2004 National Organization on Disability and Harris poll by the Institute of American Disabilities showed that over the past four years the number of people with disabilities who report discrimination at work significantly reduced. Economic benefits to companies that hire people with disabilities and provide them with specially equipped workstations were also confirmed.


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