According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person with a disability is someone who struggles in doing major life activities because of a particular physical and mental impairment. The ADA is a federal law that aims to prohibit discrimination among disabled people, especially when it comes to employment, education, transportation, and access to government services. The ADA also establishes requirements for businesses and other organizations to make their facilities and programs accessible to disabled people.
Even though the ADA has been in effect since 1994, disabled people still face many challenges in accessing the same rights and opportunities as nondisabled people. Here are the most common legal issues faced by disabled people.
Unfortunately, discrimination against disabled people in the workplace is still all too common. A 2017 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that nearly 80% of working-age adults with disabilities are unemployed. In addition, disabled workers are often paid less than their nondisabled counterparts; the median hourly wage for disabled workers is $11.80, compared to $17.09 for nondisabled workers.
If you have been discriminated against at work because of your disability, you may be able to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace, including the ADA. Additionally, if you’re someone who can’t do physical labor due to your disability, you can file for disability insurance claims. These claims can provide financial support for you while you look for a new job or undergo training for a new career.
Disabled people also face discrimination in housing. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in many ways, including disabilities. Yet, despite the FHA’s protections, a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that nearly half of all renters with disabilities experience some form of housing discrimination.
If you have been discriminated against in housing, you may be able to file a complaint with HUD. HUD investigates housing discrimination complaints and takes appropriate enforcement action if discrimination is found to have occurred. Once they found that the landlord violated the FHA, HUD can work with the parties involved to devise a solution, such as requiring the landlord to make their property accessible or providing compensation for damages suffered.
Many public and private facilities are not accessible to disabled people due to architectural barriers such as stairs without ramps or narrow doorways. In addition, many websites are not designed to be accessible to people with visual impairments or other disabilities, which make it difficult to use standard computer interfaces.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses and organizations to remove architectural barriers and provide auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure equal access for disabled people. If you encounter an accessibility issue, you can file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ enforces the ADA and investigates complaints of ADA violations.
Disabled people who cannot work may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, the application process for these benefits can be lengthy and complex; according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), only about 30% of first-time applicants are approved for benefits.
The government can deal with this in three ways:
Claiming benefits is pretty hard, especially if you’re disabled. A benefits navigator can make the process smoother and easier for disabled individuals.
Improving the Application Process
The application process for disability benefits should be simplified and streamlined to make it easier for disabled individuals to apply.
Better Resources for Disabled Individuals
Providing better resources, such as job training programs, vocational rehabilitation services, and support systems, can help disabled individuals secure stable employment and reduce their dependence on disability benefits.
Sadly, hate crimes against disabled people are all too familiar; according to FBI data from 2017, 20% of all hate crimes reported were based on disability bias. However, if you have been the victim of a hate crime, you can file a police report and contact your local district attorney’s office.
These are just a few legal issues disabled people face daily. While progress has been made in ensuring equal rights and opportunities for disabled individuals, there is still much work to be done in creating a genuinely inclusive society. As a member of our community, it’s essential to educate yourself about the rights and challenges of disabled people and advocate for their inclusion and equal treatment.