Although America has great accommodations for citizens with disabi 8 today, it has not always been that way. This country did not have specific laws in place to help those with disabilities through everyday activities in life. However, America has made progress over the years to help people with disabilities in as many ways as they can through the help of laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Life without these laws was far different than today and was not a very adequate way for individuals with disabilities to live.
In the early 1900s, people that had disabilities were often placed in ns away from the rest of society. Life inside of these places was questionable, especially with medical experimentation. There was not much knowledge as to what each disability was and how to care for those that had them. ‘The conditions in which these people were living were not, ideal and they were not receiving proper treatment in any way.
The disabled were outcasts in society and segregation was extremely evident. Around the same time that the matter of segregation in schools because of race because popular discussion, so did the segregation of those with disabilities.
Brown vs. the Board of Education was a law passed to give all students the right to equal and free education. Because of this law, students that had disabilities were given the right to attend the same schools as anybody else. They did not have to go to the institutions.
However, there were still many problems for the disabled in the public school system. Some students required extra assistance that they would not receive from the school. This was an ongoing problem for multiple years that later was address. Outside of the school, however, there was progress being made to assist the disabled in everyday life.
President John F. Kennedy helped start the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Construction Act, This was formed to help the building of facilites for citizens with disabilities. The act did not make it so that every building had handicapped accessibility, but it was a step in the right direction. People with disabilities were slowly getting more rights with time. Then there was the first major change ~The Civil Rights Act.
In the 1960s, there were changes happening all across America. The Civil Rights Act began in efforts to end racial segregation (Loevy, 1997). Unlike with Brown vs. the Board of Education, The Civil Rights Act applied to everybody ~ it was not limited to just the school. However, The Civil Rights Act achieved so much more than ending racial segregation, it also brought about the end of segregation towards the disabled. Equal rights for everyone was beginning, which was a huge milestone for Americans with disabilities. Fven though there were more rights and accommodations being made for the disabled, there were still plenty of issues that needed to be addressed.
Students may have had the right fo free public education, but many of them could not eam under the same circumstances as the other kids, The children that had leaming, disabilities needed to be placed in an area where they could learn with adaptations to their disabilities so they could learn to the best of their abilities, but schools did not provide services like that to help the children, A major cause for why students did not receive necessary help was because of funding. Schools did not have the monetary resources to provide necessary assistance, However, in the Mills vs. District of Columbia Board of Education case, it was argued that students receiving the help to learn should not be limited because of financial limitations. This helped bring some of the problems the disabled face ta the public eye.
Then, in 1973, The (Vocational) Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) made a point that people with disabilities must not be discriminated when offered services. This law was primarily applicable in the community, but also was able to be applied in the school, people were just unaware of that. Section 504 is not limited to people under the help of other special education laws. Section 504 isin place to help anybody that has a factor that negatively affects their ability to function or learn. Progress was made over many years to help the disabled have equal rights in school and everyday life.
In the 1990s is when the disabled were starting to receive the help and attention that they need, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was formed to prohibit discrimination again those with disabilities. The ADA is a law that is applied to the community. This law is the reason why buildings are required to have handicapped accessibility, such as elevators and ramps. There are a variety of cases where bullngs violate this specific law and get sued (Macneil Lehrer Productions, 2000). The ADA has helped make everyday tasks far easier for the disabled. Section 504, as mentioned before, actually falls under the ADA law. Its put in place so that people with disabilities can receive assistance, not only in schools, but also in places like at work. However, one major component of the ADA is that there is no funding provided for it. Ia building does not have a handicap accessible entrance, they do not receive
funding to install one. They are required to fund everything on their own, The other law that has greatly impacted life for the disabled is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDFA).
Similar to ADA, IDEA is applicable to people with disabilities. However, IDEA is only applied within schools, Students from birth to age 18 or 21 ~ depenuling on the category of disability — are protected with IDEA. A major difference between ADA and IDEA is the aspect of funding, IDEA is funded by the state, which helps individuals with disabilities to receive the necessary help they need within the school, al atthe states expense. IDEA also utilizes Individualized Education Plans (IEP). IEPs are very informative documents that every special education student has. They are used to document every area about the child so that the best course of action can be taken for their education, For a child to qualify for IDEA, they must be educationally impacted, which is where the difference between the 504 plan and IEPs occurs. The differences between ADA and IDEA are necessary to help ensure the most coverage for the disabled.
Life for the disabled was not always very adequate. It started with little to no help at all for them and slowly over the years made progress. In the past 20 years is when the most progress was made for people with disabilities and their rights. The disabled were able to go from being forced into institutions with awful conditions to being able to participate and learn in public schools, Thanks go to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilies Education Act for allowing the disabled to experience life with the rights they deserve.