Reasonable Accommodation

By Staff

Five years ago last week, with the nearly unanimous approval of
Congress, George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act
into law. Today, the effectiveness of the groundbreaking
anti-discrimination law is being questioned by the disabled and
non-disabled alike.

Writing in the Libertarian magazine Reason
(Aug./Sept. 1995) Brian Doherty asserts that the law unfairly
‘gives the feds veto rights over such issues as: whether a
prospective employer can ask a would-be truck driver if he has
epilepsy; how far grab bars must be from the back walls of toilet
stalls; what surfaces are permitted for subway platforms;… and
dozens of other aspects of running businesses and city
governments.’ According to Doherty, the law has created an entire
industry around interpreting it and has provided more work for
lawyers than for the handicapped people it was supposed to
represent.

On the other side of the fence, in the current issue of
The Disability Rag & Resource (July/August
1995) John R. Woodward lauds the ADA for making significant changes
in ‘the everyday life of all Americans, not just those with
disabilities.’ Citing the telephone relay services for the deaf and
hard of hearing that are operating in all fifty states as perhaps
the ADA’s greatest achievement, Woodward also praises the law for
making commercial buildings across the country more accessible for
their disabled customers and employees.

However, Woodward is also quick to point out that many
businesses have failed to make the necessary adaptations and that
the government has been slow to force them to do so. To gauge the
disabled community’s satisfaction with the ADA’s progress, Woodwind
asked users of the misc.handicap newsgroup to
comment on the current conditions of the ADA in their communities.
The responses, he writes, ‘left figurative blisters on the
information superhighway.’

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