The 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a law that prohibits discrimination in the workplace against those with disabilities, sparked a vocal debate over how effective the law has been in opening up the workplace to people with disabilities. A recent article in Newsweek breaks down the debate that's been going on between political commentators and advocates for people with disabilities.
The article begins by saying that the ADA has been "near-universally admired" and has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Some politicians and disability advocate groups have questioned, however, whether the law has really helped people with disabilities. Some point to the statistic that the percentage of unemployment among people with disabilities has remained stable since the passage of the law -- at 60 percent. Each side expresses a different take on the statistic.
Libertarian politicians and others skeptical of a heavy-handed government presence in the workplace argue that the ADA may actually hurt people with disabilities by actually discouraging employers from hiring people with disabilities out of fear of lawsuits lest they fail to adequately accommodate their new employees.
People who advocate for the civil rights of people with disabilities unanimously agree that the ADA has only been a good thing, but have different opinions of where it should go from here. Likely all agree that the ADA opened up society more for people with disabilities, offered more independence and self-sufficiency, and raised the standard of expectations. They say there are numerous reasons why a person with a disability may not be working. Most advocates agree, however, that there is a long way to go, first and foremost to completely dispel the notion that a person with a disability has nothing gainful to contribute to society.