Work in Progress
Progress is hard work. When looking at progress toward inclusion we need to remember the efforts that were made to get there. Take for example the progress in how public education is provided since the seventies. In the early seventies, it is estimated that over one million children with disabilities were excluded from attending a public school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act provide protections from discrimination as well as accommodations and services necessary to receive instruction.
Title I of the ADA ensures that people with disabilities have access to the same employment opportunities as anyone else and ensures that employers provide people with disabilities reasonable accommodations if needed. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services of public entities.
Employers, local and state governments as well as labor unions and employment agencies cannot discriminate a qualified applicant because of a disability. Discrimination or failure to provide reasonable accommodations still occurs in the workplace. But now, thanks to the ADA, employers who engage in discriminatory practices have consequences.
Progress takes a great amount of effort and determination to sustain. When we look back at the grassroots effort to build support for the ADA and the sacrifices made by a generation, one can’t help but feel motivated to continue fighting for progress towards inclusion.