We are delighted to present this special "back to school" issue of Disability Studies Quarterly, Disability Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom. The essays in this special issue include writing by undergraduates, undergraduate and graduate student teams, undergraduates along with their instructors, and a small number of academic pieces by professors. Many of the undergraduate papers are accompanied by pedagogical descriptions from the professors who taught the courses in which the papers were initially produced; for the longer essays abstracts appear in the Table of Contents. While we strove for consistency, we decided to highlight the interdisciplinarity of disability studies by publishing papers in their various genres and formats, and we elected to organize them, and discuss them below, according to themes and patterns, rather than by author categories. Indeed, at moments, it is hard to distinguish the undergraduate paper from the academic article. Although the Table of Contents and Introduction suggest thematic groupings, the collection as a whole can be read in any order.
If it is fair to generalize from the number and range of submissions we received, these snapshots of student and faculty work paint an intriguing picture of the current state of disability studies (DS) in the undergraduate curriculum. We are heartened to find that disability as subject and DS as critical perspective appear in a wide range of undergraduate courses in the humanities and social sciences; as represented in the submissions to this issue, disability has entered the curricula of anthropology, art, communication, English literature, history, education, geography, social science and social policy, speech pathology, various writing courses, and women's studies courses. Though produced for the classroom, this student writing also connects to activist spaces, as students reference the work they are doing in their communities and on their campuses. This good news is tempered, however, by the dearth of submissions from the "harder" sciences. In addition, we observed that DS assignments and pedagogies remain somewhat traditional in approach; their range needs to broaden further in order to realize the goal of fully integrating DS into the curriculum at all levels and for all learners.
Based on the submissions, DS appears alive and well across a number of different kinds of institutions in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and disability curricula are represented in small colleges as well as large research institutions. A number of these institutions have established DS majors or minors (such as the University of Arizona, Brandeis, Miami University, Ohio State, and Ryerson University), while others are newer to the field.
Is it fair to say that DS is changing the landscape of the university? There are reasons to be both excited by the progress we have made and realistically aware of the work still needed to make higher education fully inclusive and accessible. For example, pieces in this issue report on a program bringing young adults with cognitive disabilities together for a week's experience living and studying on a university campus; on geospatial and ethnographic analyses of the accessibility of a large university campus; and on accessible web design. While pointing to important developments, these pieces also detail barriers to full accessibility, which indicates work still needed in order to make the promise of DS's transformative power a reality.
Disability Studies as Agent of Change
Will "doing" DS necessarily entail a critical stance mandating change? Several pieces included here explore how the student of DS may change, how teachers are changed by their interactions with students in disability-themed courses, and how teachers can use DS to lead students to become deeper critical thinkers and readers. In "Passion and Action: Reflections on Learning to Do Disability Studies in the Classroom and Beyond," Jennifer Paterson, Heather Willis, and Jessica Hogan relate the gradual process of change in students' thinking and identification as they move through the Disability Studies program at Ryerson University. Through interaction with other students and instructors, reflection on their work experiences, and increasing DS knowledge, they learn new terms, gain tools for analysis, find strategies for challenging their own and co-workers' defensiveness, and become motivated to enact change. Such a process of change extends over several courses and years and is the culmination of a program of study as well as work experience.
At many colleges, however, students may have little exposure to disability issues, and there may be no DS program, with only one or two teachers infusing their curricula with disability themes, topics, and pedagogy. Two pieces included in this issue address the power of a single course that incorporates DS readings and approaches. In "The Mobius Strip: Disability Studies and Critical Thinking," Joy Cypher and Deb Martin describe an interdisciplinary, collaborative disability-themed course they developed and taught. Their initial goal was to use disability to engage students in issues of social justice and diversity in order to deepen their critical thinking skills, though they conclude that DS classes do not simply develop critical thinking through their content alone. In teaching the course, responding to student resistance, and rethinking their pedagogy, they made their own journey of "critical progress," as they redefine critical thinking as a recursive activity of thinking/acting, a movement rather than an outcome. Valerie Struthers Walker, Tara Mileski, Dana Greaves, and Lisa Patterson give us specific examples of pedagogy that focus on developing students' critical reading of disability representations. In "Questioning Representations of Disability in Adolescent Literature: Reader Response Meets Disability Studies," they demonstrate a way to structure assignments as student-initiated inquiries that foster awareness of the ways readers understand texts and use outside resources to make meaning.
Reflections on Disability
As we read the many submissions that stemmed from courses across the disciplines, we noted a number of trends that seem prevalent. One common approach was an assignment that called for "before/after" reflection — that is, a reflection that pertained in some way to disability at the start of the semester, followed by disability-themed coursework, and a culminating reflection at the end of the semester. While such assignments can create important learning experiences for students, they can also invite a familiar enlightenment narrative, along the lines of "Now that I have read about / seen / spoken to (a) disabled person(s), my mind has been opened." This enlightenment narrative reifies assumptions about "disabled" and "nondisabled" as rigid categories, and implies that disabled persons exist in order to serve as educational devices. Before and after reflections, however, need not reinforce an ableist, egocentric perspective; indeed, they often are enlightening for instructors, giving them a picture of what students have taken from a course. In her introduction to her student Erin Lower's reflective writing, Diane Driedger notes that she learned "many new disability experiences" from reading students' reflections. Erin Lower's before and after essays reveal a nuanced and complex shift in her understanding of disability, as by the end of the course, Lower not only grasped the importance of language but also the role of social barriers and attitudes in constructing the experience of disability. Importantly, she came to claim her own disability identity as well. A response to a similar assignment by Kathryn Burris in her Sociology of Disability course demonstrates her knowledge of disability readings as well as her emerging awareness of the need to critically rethink her own earlier disability narrative in terms of the social model she learned in the course; she gains a new understanding "of the need [for professionals] to partner with the disability community to bring about social change."
These varying perspectives and writings invite a reconsideration of what it means to be critical. Does a critical lens focus on changing the attitudes of the student as subject? Or does it focus more on the student as critic of representations? Does it result in activism to reform social barriers and attitudes? Or to a change in core identity? Do conversion narratives co-opt the goals of DS, or do they have a place along the arc of one's learning? As scholars of rhetoric and composition, the editors have frequently returned to these questions; these are the same issues we face in our own teaching and researching of disability studies. We don't have concrete answers, but we urge you to reflect on these questions as you design your syllabi and course assignments. We also hope that the works presented here, with their range of concerns, approaches, and modalities, will provide models or ideas as you continue your own work with DS in the undergraduate classroom.
Researching and Writing with a Disability Perspective
The value of a solid grounding in DS theory is evident in three student research papers, each of which advances a sophisticated argument made possible by applying a critical disability perspective to a wide range of research. In "Globalization and the Black Market Organ Trade: When Even a Kidney Can't Pay the Bills," Karen Hudson articulates the links between globalization, health care systems, and disabled people. Margo Moinester combines medical critique with a Deaf-centered analysis: in "The Nature of Risk: HIV/AIDS and the Deaf Community in the United States," she develops a critique of medical models of "risk groups" while also explaining how the Deaf community is at risk for HIV/AIDS, not because they form an identity group, but because of the "discriminatory social, attitudinal, and political environment." The submissions we received also reflect students' abilities to combine theoretical and historical concerns related to disability, as revealed in Sami Schalk's "What Makes Mr. Hyde So Scary? Disability as a Result of Evil and Cause of Fear." In this piece, Schalk demonstrates how careful reading in a historical context can illuminate new ideas about the familiar trope of disability as evil.
Writing Autism into the College Curriculum
The writings on autism included here came from general education and rhetoric classes that included readings and documentaries about autism, as well as from an undergraduate and graduate student team who focused on the relationship of research to social change. While these submissions can be read as part of the proliferation of recent discussions regarding autism, the pieces included here refuse the rhetoric of cure that typically dominates the popular press; in contrast, they focus on issues of agency, representation, and online experience. In "Autism: The Lived Experience," Kerry Bowen turns to the experiences of Daniel Tammet, Temple Grandin, and John Elder Robison (in comparison to more popularized accounts by authors like Jenny McCarthy) to argue that those with autism have "unique ways of thinking" and "talents." Scott Robertson and Ari Ne'eman claim the term "autistic" and chronicle the development of the neurodiversity movement, particularly in online settings. Their article also details the benefits and challenges of including autistic students on college campuses, which, as the authors note, requires "embracing autistic students' diverse gifts, talents, and abilities, while acknowledging and respecting their autonomy, individuality, and rights and responsibilities." Another article in this series, Hila Hirad's review of the children's book Looking After Louis by Lesley Ely, shifts the focus to how children learn about autism. Hirad claims that while Ely's portrayal of elementary-school student Louis, who is autistic, has some strong points, the book's text and images present him as "other" — yet as one whose disability should not be explicitly named or discussed. She concludes that a better message for children is "that it is okay to learn about differences in people" and to "openly inquire about them."
Intersections with Gender and Sexuality
Tobin Siebers suggests in Disability Theory that "disability studies may be in a position to offer significant adjustments to current theories of the body, especially the gendered and sexed body" (202). As is evident from the many works we received that focused on the intersections of gender/sex and disability, such adjustments may come not only from senior scholars in the field, but from undergraduates working in areas including qualitative research, literary studies, and gender studies. In "Disability and Gender in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Caroline Leach analyzes Kesey's novel using the intersecting lenses of gender and disability theory. She argues that mental illness in Cuckoo is presented as a form of emasculation, which "can simply be 'solved' by the injection of testosterone that is McMurphy." Her insightful reading points to the importance of intersectional analysis in revealing how representations of disability can serve to reinforce normativity (in this case of gender) even while seeming to embrace difference. In "Resistance Training," Margaret Shalma draws upon her experience with a women's gym, showing that the rhetoric the gym uses to "orient" its members draws upon discourses that equate fatness and pathology, holding up an ideal of the "normal" body as beautiful spectacle. Megan Albertz's "Let's Talk About Sex…and Disability Baby!" examines the politics of sexuality and disability, with a focus on disabled persons' writings about their own diverse sexualities. And Ashley Mog's "Threads of Commonality in Transgender and Disability Studies" maps the discrimination and medicalization that characterize the embodied experiences of trans and disabled identities. Mog includes close readings of the politics of space as it is governed through the technology of the public bathroom, a site of her activism. These works both affirm long-standing concerns in DS, including literary representation and medical approaches to "sex," while also pointing the way toward newer areas, including fat embodiment and trans studies.
Disability Autobiography and Representation
The problem of representation is an ongoing topic in DS. In the genre of autobiography, for example, such narratives may "offer the narrator as a disputatious figure critiquing the less than humane responses of a flat, often hostile, and uniformly able-ist culture" (Mitchell & Snyder 9); and/or they may raise difficult questions about collaboration and coercion (Couser). The three autobiographical essays in this section are part of a growing body of disability self-representation that moves beyond familiar tropes to offer new and complex interchanges among disabilities, art, access, truth, race, sexuality, and gender. In "Drawing out My Depression," Timile Brown recounts the difficulty of accessing a college education when even "support" staff claim that depression is "hard to believe" as a disability. In "Heading to the Big Show," Anthony Jackson offers a close look at daily college life as a power wheelchair user, addressing the complicated processes involved in accessing not only classrooms, but also dorms, cafeterias, on-campus work as a radio DJ, and study abroad. And in "Three Legs of a Bedroom Life," Alan Samry weaves together the themes of prosthetics, sexuality, masculinity, and technology in a meditation that spans decades. These works are, by turns, jarring, lighthearted, funny, and angry; together, they demonstrate the importance of undergraduate voices in disability arts.
We are also happy to include a visual art submission, produced by Carmen Caraballo and described by Julia Rodas. Rodas details how students and faculty worked together to discuss disability representations and created a disability awareness poster contest at Bronx Community College of the CUNY, and her description provides a guide for those hoping to develop similar contests to promote new conceptions of disability studies on campus.
Accessing Spaces and Histories
Many of the submissions we received engage ideas of what it means to access spaces and histories. For instance, students with intellectual differences and/or cognitive impairments are attending college at increasing rates; however, the question of how higher education might welcome these students is often ignored. How might the design of a university change to accommodate students with significant cognitive differences? Steve Sunderland's article, "Opening the Door to Higher Education: The Rights of the Intellectually Different to Access and Peace," tells the story of the collaboratively-developed "College Camps," a joint effort from many different scholars and activists in the Cincinnati area. During the 2007 and 2008 College Camps, groups of students attended classes, ate in cafeterias, navigated the campus, and lived together in dormitories. Sunderland describes the College Camps' many groundbreaking successes, but also points out the difficult questions they raised, such as what student "freedom" can and should mean in such a context.
Questions of access were also explored in research courses and online projects. In "Participatory Research on Universal Design and Accessible Space at the University of Arizona," Nicholas Rattray, Sarah Raskin, and Jackie Cimino examine the barriers to accessibility by exploring physical, attitudinal, social-behavioral, and policy-influenced strategies for campus design. To gather data on accessibility, they interviewed 25 campus and community members, and had them complete "map interviews," where participants charted accessible and inaccessible portions of campus from their own perspectives. They found that some access barriers are hidden, and that many of the needed changes require social education and adjustments rather than hefty financial resources. In "Snapshots in Review," Karla Kmetz shifts the discussion to online environments and explains her design of a "digital media portfolio" focused on creating a non-linear history of disability at the Ohio State University. As intended, the online project serves as a "model for other universities considering the implementation of their own Disability Studies programs," as well as a practical orientation to developing truly accessible and interactive web spaces.
We were excited to see a clear commitment to discussing access in the submissions we received; however, most of the work submitted for this issue appeared in "traditional" written form. In Talking, Sketching, Moving: Multiple Literacies in the Teaching of Writing, Patricia Dunn questions the dominance of print-based teaching and learning, arguing for the importance of providing a wide range of sensory learning opportunities in order to include all students. She suggests that writing is overly emphasized as a way for students to demonstrate knowledge, and she questions: "But what if schools used only math or only drawing or only dance as a way of knowing?" (50) We would like to suggest that access is increased when a Universal Design approach is taken to teaching and assigning writing, and such an approach includes incorporating multi-modal digital writing that makes use of aural, visual, design, and textual elements. As teachers doing disability studies, we might further explore how to assess student learning by offering students opportunities to work in modes outside "the paper," and perhaps by asking students to work in various modes to achieve the same learning outcome.
Another concern regards disability pedagogy: While the presence of disability "curricula" or "content" in so many locations is impressive, the adoption of inclusive pedagogies appears less common. Several of the submissions referenced the use of in-class exams or timed writings, which often disadvantage students with a wide range of visual and learning disabilities. It also appeared that many classes relied on a lecture format or had heavy reading and writing loads, which can exclude some students (both with and without disabilities), such as those who are kinaesthetic or non-aural learners, or who might express their mastery of the materials in other formats (particularly in classes not focused on teaching writing). Of course, the submissions we received may or may not reflect what is going on in classrooms where DS is happening, and we cannot know the degree to which such seemingly inaccessible pedagogies were made more accessible through various technologies, such as computer-aided real-time transcription (CART), printed lecture notes, online course materials, and the like. Still, it seems that approaches that rely on traditional concepts of reading and writing are common, and a universal design approach emerges less often than disability-as-topic.
To be sure, this special issue is no indicator of the full range of disability pedagogies at work in higher education, and as editors, we may have been remiss when designing the call for papers in failing to highlight both the range of submissions we hoped to receive, and why it was important to submit them. As noted by Dunn and De Mers in "Reversing Notions of Disability and Accommodation: Embracing Universal Design in Writing Pedagogy and Web Space": "The hardest part of designing more flexible writing pedagogies is climbing out of our own text-comfortable cocoons — the writing-as-learning blankets we've had draped around us for so long. We can still keep our blankets. They continue to serve us well. But it's time for some spring clothes." To this end, we want to both laud the excellent writing we received, and also encourage pedagogies that reach beyond traditionally written papers. As teachers and scholars of writing, this is a challenge that we, as editors, must also respond to.
We deeply thank the students, teachers, and independent scholars who submitted work to this issue, particularly those new to submitting and revising their work for publication. We also want to invite further conversation on pedagogy, particularly for the many of us who are "doing DS" as the lone person in our departments, perhaps our schools, and/or from the vulnerable positions of graduate student, adjunct instructor, or pre-tenure professor. For though teaching disability studies in the undergraduate classroom often invites the disquieting comment that students are "thinking about disability for the first time," the progression of disability pedagogies need not be an isolated project taken on course by course, teacher by teacher. Just as students help shape an instructor's pedagogy and understanding of what it means to teach disability studies, colleagues do as well. As DS becomes less of a novelty and more a shaping concept in undergraduate education, we must not only embrace the challenge of changing the attitudes and knowledge of students, but also the difficult task of reshaping curricula and promoting an inclusive pedagogy so that disability studies truly transforms what it means to learn — about disability or any topic — in ways that include all people.
Essay/Term paper: Disability in the workplace
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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
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
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 life. Once this has been established
and the person has been hired there are still other guidelines set by the A.D.A.
on how the employer goes about bringing this person into the company.
This can be a very sensitive area for employer, applicant and existing
employees. Because of the fact that the person has a disability, undue
assumptions made by all parties involved. For instance, the new employee with
the disabilitiy may assume that the existing employees will think that he or she
needs help with many trivial things. Or the employer may tell the other workers
to watch over this person for a while. What should be happening is what ever
happens when any other person comes in for a new job, that is introductions,
respect, and of course training. The guidelines for introducing a disabled
worker are manualized in a book entitled "Employers Guide to The Americans With
Disabilities Act, Second Edition."
Requirements of the Employer
Probably the most important aspect of hiring a person with a disability
is to determine if that person is qualified to perform the job that he or she is
applying for. There is a standard definition of what defines a qualified person,
"...an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable
accommodations, can perform the essential function of the employment position
that such individual holds or desires"(Frierson, p. 106). This means that a
worker is qualified to hold any job that he or she can perform without an excess
of changes to the business itself, as stated by the Americans With Disabilities
There is one aspect of the hiring process that could be mistaken as
discrimination, but is not. That is the employer is free to hire the most
qualified person for the job. For example, if there are two applicants for a
secretarial job, applicant A types 65 words per minute and applicant B, who
happens to have a disability only types 50 words per minute, even if the slower
typing rate is caused by the disability, the employer should hire applicant A
because A is the most qualified for the job. However, there are exceptions to
every rule, and this is no different. Each instance is case sensitive and must
be handled accordingly. If there were two applicants for a telephone operator,
both are equally qualified but one has a hearing impairment which would require
an amplifier placed on the headset. This is not cause for choosing the
applicant with no disabilities, for the reason that a telephone amplifier only
costs a few dollars and is not considered to be an excessive accommodation.
In Frierson's book, "Employers Guide to The Americans With Disabilities
Act", There are five practical tips on hiring practices which will keep
employers from violating any laws on hiring practices as stated in the A.D.A.:
1. In determining if a person with a disability can perform the job,
consider only essential tasks of the job.
2. Consider all reasonable accommodations.
3. After applying 1 and 2, treat job applicants with disabilities
the same as applicants without disabilities.
4. Hire the person who is most qualified.
5. Avoid blanket rules. Look at each applicant as an individual.
Decide if the individual is the most qualified to perform
the essential job tasks, after reasonable accommodations
These steps are very important not only to the disabled worker, but to the
person hiring the worker. This protects the employee's right to choose whomever
he deems to be the most qualified. After everything is said and done and the
employer selects the most qualified worker, and that worker happens to be
disabled, there are some accommodations to the workplace that may have to take
Accommodations made for the disabled are essential to that person
becoming a successful team member of any organization, for the reason that it
allows this person to do things independently and without having to wait for
assistance. "The Americans With Disabilities Act requires employers to make:
reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an
otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or an
employee..."(Frierson, p.138). There is a list of reasonable accommodations as
stated by the A.D.A., such changes include making existing facilities accessible
to those who have a disability. Also acquisition or modification of existing
equipment to accommodate all workers. On the other hand, there are no set lists
of examples that are considered to be in excess for an employer to provide,
however there are some basic guidelines for them to follow when making this
decision. For example, the accommodations are too expensive for that particular
company to provide. Also, the accommodation is seen to interfere with the
facility's ability to conduct business. An employer can be charged with
discrimination if that employer claims excess accommodation without researching
all the possibilities. An employer should never assume that accommodation is
impossible, there is a service provided by the "President's Committee on
Employment of People with Disabilities, called the Job Accommodation
Network(JAN). JAN has literally tens of thousands of ideas and suggestions on
successful changes that have been made to companies"(Frierson, p.165). So now
there is no excuse for employers to make about hiring a disabled worker,
regardless of the situation.
The first two steps in the addition of a disabled worker are in place,
the hiring and the accommodations. Now there need to be programs in place in
order to effectively train these workers so they can be introduced into the
workplace and become successful.
Training of Employees (with motion disabilities)
Among all the disabilities a person can face these days, whether it be
vision, hearing, physical or mental disabilities, there is one aspect of
disability that tops the list of concern. That is a disability which impairs
motion or mobility of a worker. "Whether it is moving from home to work, form
one work area to another, or traveling long distances, the ability to get there
tops everyone's list of concern"(Tracey, p. 175). When a person has a
disability that they never had before, and they find that they cannot get around
the way they did before, it can be very traumatic to this individual. For
instance it can cause feelings of entrapment and loss of freedom. However with
the assistance of a wheelchair and a specially adapted vehicle, this person can
regain that lost sense of freedom and begin to re-build some lost self-esteem.
Because most jobs out there require some sort of physical or manual labor, a
person with a motion impairment of the arms, hands, legs or fingers can cause
some complications. However with a little effort and possibly imagination of a
few people almost all of these obstacles can be overcome.
There are numerous motion or mobility disabilities that an employer may
have to handle. Some of them are people with amputations, arthritis, brain
damage, or spinal cord injuries. Just because there are some individuals with
these and many other impairments, does not mean they should be denied the same
opportunities as any other person has in the workplace. In most cases there are
some assistive technologies available for companies and employers to take
advantage of. All of these are not considered to be an excess accommodation.
The most obvious of aids available to a disabled person returning to work is a
wheelchair or cane. These provide freedom of movement and independence in and
out of the office. Another very important, and relatively inexpensive
modification are the installments of ramps and lifts. If a worker has a
disability which prevents him or her from climbing stairs, ramps or lifts are
essential. With all of the advancements in modern technology, even a
quadriplegic can hold down a job. There are actually innovative programs in
place to integrate the use of these workers either in an office setting or in
their own home. As mentioned earlier, freedom of movement is important and
without it a disabled person cannot even go out to apply for a job.
This is where vehicle adaptations play a big role in the lives of
Americas disabled citizens. Help with making these adaptations to the vehicles
of disabled workers can be sought through that persons company. Also there are
many vehicle manufacturers that will re-imberse some of the expense put out by a
Personal Impacts made by The A.D.A. Regulations
One of the most important characteristics, we as humans posses is that
of self-respect. And in many cases of disability, individuals were not born
with any particular impairment. Once a disability has taken hold a persons life
it can cause drastic changes in that persons self-concept, self-worth, and the
way that person views the world. Before the Americans With Disabilities Act
established a foothold on ending discrimination against persons with
disabilities, these valuable citizens could begin to crawl their way out of
obscurity and into the light of a completely new world. Regardless of whether
or not the A.D.A. is around, disabled citizens are going to apply for positions.
They had been doing so for fifty years before the A.D.A. In that time, the
numbers of workers with disabilities grew from a few, to a few thousand, to a
few million. The change in trend is in direct correlation to the A.D.A. and the
statutes set by it in the workplace. First of all, Title I of The Americans
With Disabilities Act, ends all discrimination against disables workers. This
gives an opportunity for some people who might have been to scared to apply, a
chance to do otherwise and to do so on equal grounds. It also relieved some of
the stress that may have been felt by the employer because the guidelines are
very clear and they are very easy to understand.
Also when it comes to the actual job performed by the disabled worker,
this worker wants the opportunity to perform his or her job to the best possible
standards, just like any other worker. This is where the importance of the
special training programs and associations that are designed to aid in this
aspect come into play. Not only are the regulations helpful to the employer and
the employee, but a creative person can provide a sense of accomplishment and
even help to create a bond of understanding around all who are involved. For
example, the case of "a potato inspector who was required to core out bad spots
in potatoes. Carpal tunnel syndrome drastically reduced his ability to perform
the task. An adapted potato corer mounted on a table allowed him to continue
working at a cost of less than $33"(Frierson, p.161). It is things like this
that allow persons with disabilities to function as a productive member of
society. Or what is thought to be a productive member, in that this person can
be completely independent both in the home and in the workplace.
Technology, persistence, and understanding makes it all happen. Now go
back and look at the person who had a disability take control of his or her life.
That person is no longer, hiding in the shadows, he is out, proudly
contributing and living his life to the best of his ability. Also this person
can support himself with a regular paycheck, not a government aid or the help of
family and friends. This aspect in particular is of extreme importance to many
disabled Americans. The ability to survive on their own, not having to be
dependent on someone or some group to provide food, clothing or shelter, isn't
that what we all want anyway? That is why the Americans With Disabilities Act
is the most important precedent set in the struggle to end all discrimination
against disabled people. Although there will always be some discrimination and
prejudice against all groups in society, at least now one of those groups has
the opportunity to prove themselves in an unforgiving society.
1. The Americans With Disabilities Act Title I, 1994
2. Frierson, James G. EMPLOYERS GUIDE TO THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT,
SECOND EDITION, The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., 1995
3. Tracey, William R. Training Employees with Diabilities, American
Management Association, 1995
1. The Americans With Disabilities Act Title I, 1994
2. Frierson, James G. EMPLOYERS GUIDE TO THE AMERICANS WITH
DISABILITIES ACT, SECOND EDITION, The Bureau of National Affairs,
3. Tracey, William R. Training Employees with Diabilities, American
Management Association, 1995
4. Conley, Robert W. The Economics of Vocational Rehabilitation, The
Johns Hopkins Press, 1965
5. Urbain, Cathleen Supported Employement: A Step by Step Guide,
PACER center 1992
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