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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Rexamining ADA

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the  civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities. 

Andrew Pulrang at Forbes:
There are three compelling reasons why now is a good time to reexamine the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • The core ideas of the ADA are more familiar than they were in 1990, but they sometimes feel out of date. Concepts like “reasonable accommodation,” “undue burden,” and “accessible” were originally meant to be flexible, for good reasons. But they often feel inadequate to the higher expectations of a new generation of disabled people.
  • Some of the most powerful aspects of the ADA today were barely thought of when it passed. For instance, the 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court decision continues to revolutionize long term care, while website accessibility looks to be the barrier removal battlefield of the future.
  • The disability rights movement that crafted the ADA pushed hard for its passage, mostly moved on to other goals, leaving the ADA vulnerable both to neglect and formal attack. In the 1990s, disability rights organizations like ADAPT and the National Council on Independent Living shifted emphasis from accessible transportation and passing the ADA, to expanding long term home care and helping disabled people get out of nursing homes and institutions. This was a logical choice at the time. However, each new Congress seems to include a new bill to weaken the ADA's accessibility mandates. Playing defense has worked so far, but that’s no guarantee that it will continue to work in future Congresses.
Also note a fourth reason.  In 1990, there was much less focus on developmental disabilities.  Indeed, the DSM-IV definition of autism still lay several years in the future.