Thirty-two years ago today, former President George H.W Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law. I was born nine years after the ADA was enacted. I attended local public schools and received an education in the same school system as my younger sibling. Accessibility must go beyond being able to get into a building. Disabled Americans should be allowed the same opportunities as non-disabled Americans.
I’ve been looking for work for the past three years and haven’t been successful. Unfortunately, employers are no longer interested in hiring me once they discover that I have Cerebral Palsy. Equal Employment Opportunity is the law in America, and the ADA prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities, but discrimination still happens.
Data shows people with disabilities can make excellent employees. We are eager to work, creative, and dedicated to our jobs. However, those without disabilities are three times more likely to be employed than those with disabilities. In the United States, 19.1% of people with a disability worked last year. How is it okay that not even 20% of us were employed last year? It’s 2022, and people with disabilities should be able to find jobs.
Many Americans with disabilities still can’t marry. I am one of them. In 2015, same-sex marriage became a right nationwide. This was undoubtedly a significant step forward in terms of marital equality. However, many disabled people who rely on programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are still unable to marry without their benefits being cut or taken away. I rely on Medicaid and SSI to live. Medicaid pays for my personal care attendants. SSI allows me to pay my rent. I hope to get married one day, but antiquated policies prevent me from doing so.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act was a landmark piece of legislation, we still have so much work to do in the fight for true equality for disabled people in America. Future generations of disabled people deserve the opportunities that generations of us have gone without.
“All in: Easterseals Plan for Disability Equity.” Easterseals, Easterseals, https://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/employment-training/all-in/.
Hotchkiss, Julie L. “A closer look at the employment impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Journal of Human Resources 39.4 (2004): 887-911.
Roberts, Lily, et al. “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 23 May 2022, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/removing-obstacles-for-disabled-workers-would-strengthen-the-u-s-labor-market/.
Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 June 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html.
Star, Eryn. “Marriage Equality Is Still Not a Reality: Disabled People and the Right to Marry.” Advocacy Monitor, National Council on Independent Living, 14 Nov. 2019, advocacymonitor.com/marriage-equality-is-still-not-a-reality-disabled-people-and-the-right-to-marry/.