FORGET that the Baltimore Orioles have lost 111 games and are having the worst season in their history.
REMEMBER that On September 18, 2018, the Orioles became the first U.S. professional team to use Braille lettering on their uniforms.
This was in honor of the National Federation of the Blind’s move to Baltimore 40 years ago. Each uniform had “Orioles,” as well as the player’s name, spelled out in Braille characters. Braille alphabet cards were also handed out during the game.
The team was originally going to do something to commemorate the 28th Anniversary of the Amerians with Disabilities Act. When they learned about the NFB anniversary, however, they decided to have make their tribute closer to “home.”
Twenty-nine years ago, it was fine for your potential employer to ask if you had ever had back surgery, had filed a workers’ compensation claim, or had recently spent time in the hospital.If you were a wheelchair user and had business at the upstairs county courthouse, you had two choices: ask the guards to carry you up or drag yourself up on your stomach.And since there was also no requirement that sidewalks have curb cuts, you had to take your chances when you rolled yourself down the sidewalk and then hoped to get yourself and your wheelchair safely onto the street.This sad landscape changed forever in 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed. As discussed elsewhere in this website, the ADA requires non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation in areas like employment, state and local government and most private businesses that are open to the public.Of course, there are still massive violations of the ADA everywhere you look. The difference, however, is that there now is some legal apparatus to turn to for redress. And the more people do that, the more that things like elevators and curb cuts will become the norm.If you want some quick and thorough education about the ADA and other disability laws, go to https://adata.org. You will find a treasure trove of easy-to read explanations, as well as examples, recent court cases and even quizzes to test how much you have learned.And…it’s free!Happy Birthday, ADA!
The ADA Education and Reform Act is horribly misnamed, and I’m sure that was intentional.
If enacted , this law would severely limit the rights of individuals with disabilities to file lawsuits against businesses that do not accommodate them. For example, if a wheelchair user could not get into a store because there was no ramp, she could no longer immediately file a lawsuit against the establishment. Instead, she would be required to give written notice of her intent to sue and would then have to wait at least 60 days for the store to fix the problem. And because the store would only need to show that it had made “substantial progress” towards compliance, this process could string out for a long time, with the individual still unable to make her case for access.
I am attaching a post I wrote for this blog back in February, which goes into more detail about this serious attack on disability rights. I am also attaching a recent article that provides more information and announces that there will be a demonstration in Washington DC next week, to oppose this law.
Those of us of a certain age clearly remember the Marches on Washington in the 60’s. This is designed to send the same kind of message: Justice is for everyone, no matter what our current mode of transportation.
The AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) is full of unanswered questions. One of them is: Is a website a ”place?”
This question is important because the ADA prohibits disability discrimination in “places” of public accommodation. These include stores, business offices, sports arenas, movie theaters and other places of public congregation. This concept of “place” is why the ADA requires, in many cases, that buildings have ramps, accessible restrooms, doors of a certain width, etc.
One of the complications is that the ADA was passed in 1990, when the internet was in its infancy and lawmakers could not have anticipated how websites would become such an integral part of all our lives. Back then, it was pretty obvious that “place” meant something physical, not something in some conceptual “cloud” somewhere.
But times have obviously changed. Is the law going to change with them?
See tne article below by Aesha N. Khahn for some great insights into this question.
Many businesses are understandably still nervous about the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA). They are afraid that they will have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to accommodate people with disabilities who want to shop in their stores or visit their offices. Among the urban myths out there is that every product in a grocery store has to have Braille on its label, every building of more than one story has to have an elevator, and every entrance must be wheelchair-accessible.
None of that is true. Businesses are only required to use “reasonable” efforts to accommodate those with disabilities. And what is “reasonable” is different for each establishment. A huge chain store is going to be expected to do a lot more than a mom-and-pop grocery store, because the chain store has more resources. And even though the current administration is trying to eliminate them, as of right now there are tax credits for businesses who spend money to comply with the ADA.
So what if a visually-impaired person wants to know about the ingredients in a can of soup? In most cases, it is perfectly acceptable to have an employee read the ingredients to the customer. What if someone in a wheelchair wants to go into a store where the front entrance is not accessible? As long as there is an accessible entrance somewhere, that should be sufficient. Or it may be necessary to arrange for items to be delivered to the customer.
With businesses that are being constructed or altered after 1992, there are specific requirements for things like doorways, parking places and restrooms. But the good news is that the difference in cost of building accessible and non-accessible facilities is negligible. And think of all the additional customers you’ll attract!
The link below gives many other examples of how businesses can comply with the ADA.