Disability in The Workplace


"The Americans With Disabilities Act is one of the most significant laws
in American History. The preamble to the law states that it covers 43,000,000
Americans."(Frierson, p.3) Before the Americans With Disabilities Act(A.D.A.)
was passed, employers were able to deny employment to a disabled worker, simply
because he or she was disabled. With no other reason other than the persons
physical disability were they turned away or released from a job. The Americans
With Disabilities Act prevented this type of discrimination by establishing
rules and regulations designed to protect persons with physical disabilities.
With a workforce made up of 43,000,000 people, it is impossible to ignore the
impact of these people. The Americans With Disabilities Act not only opened the
door for millions of Americans to get back into the workplace, it is paving the
road for new facilities in the workplace, new training programs and creating
jobs designed for a disabled society.
I believe the Americans With Disabilities Act is the most important
precedent set in the struggle against all discrimination for persons with
disability. In this paper I will give a brief description of the statutes set
by the Americans With Disabilities Act, pertaining to disabilities in the
workplace. I will then discuss what employers are required to do according to
the A.D.A. and some of the regulations they must abide by. The next section of
this paper will discuss the actual training of employees with disabilities with
a highlight on training programs for workers with mobility and motion
disabilities. The following section of this paper will discuss the economic
effects of a vocational rehabilitation program. Finally this paper will
conclude with a brief discussion of what the measures set by the Americans With
Disabilities Act means to the actual workers and people it benefits.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act has a section devoted to nothing but
practices by employers regarding the treatment of applicants and on staff
workers based on their physical condition or any health problems they may have.
Some of the disabilities included are vision, hearing, motion, or mental
impairments. "Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits
employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in
job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job
training and other terms and conditions of employment"(The Americans With
Disabilities Act). According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, the only
way an employer can refuse to hire an employee based upon a disability is if
that persons disability imposes an undue hardship on the operation of the
employer's business. Then the question arises, what is considered an undue
hardship? The Americans With Disabilities Act states that an undue hardship is
any action that is considered to be in excessive cost to the employer, or if the
reforms are too extensive, substantial, disruptive to the goings on of the
company or anything that would substantially change the operation of the
business.
In addition to this, the Americans With Disabilities Act provides some
information on what employers cannot do. For instance the A.D.A. states that
"employers may not ask job applicants about the existence, nature, or severity
of a disability"(The Americans With Disabilities Act). This is a very important
step in that it cancels out any possible internal prejudice the employer may
have despite the regulations set by the A.D.A. For example if the employer has
a pre-concieved notion of what he or she believes a disabled person can do, this
rule will protect the applicant from such prejudice. Also, the employer cannot
require an applicant take a medical examination before a job is offered.
Furthermore, that a job can only be conditioned based on the results of a
medical exam if those conditions apply to all workers. This aspect is important
because it places all the employees of that company on the same level right form
the beginning.
These measures have been set not only to put persons with disabilities
on level ground with other applicants, it also protects thier rights as to the
kind of treatment they will recieve. Because of this, more and more people with
disabilities are going out and applying for jobs. With the added assurance and
comfort the A.D.A. provides, disabled workers can go out with confidence and
apply for almost any position.
There is a certain classification set by A.D.A. on what constitutes a
person with a disability, that is if the person has a physical or mental
disability that substantially limits a major life activity. Also, in order to
be protected by the A.D.A. this person must have a long standing record of this
disability and how it impairs his or her