The ADA, the Supreme Court, and Self-Advocacy
Guide Entry to 04.01.06
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark federal law which protects persons with physical or mental disabilities from discrimination. Signed into law on July 26, 1990, the ADA prohibits physical barriers in employment, public accommodations, transportation, housing, telecommunications, recreation, health services, voting, and government services. This civil rights statue guarantees that Americans with disabilities will have the same protection against discrimination that is provided to other individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion.
The ADA has been litigated numerous times since it became law in 1990. In 1999, for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that correctable conditions, such as the ability to improve vision with eyeglasses, do not qualify under the guidelines of the ADA. And recently the Supreme Court ruled on a case that pertains directly to the ADA. This case, which considers access to state buildings, will be a powerful starting point for curriculum development, discussion and examination of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
This topic will allow students the opportunity to focus on a subject important to their community and will allow them to gain skills necessary for self-advocacy. The students will gain an understanding of the laws that pertain to their disabilities and the way the Supreme Court defines these rights.
(Developed for Resource, Visually Impaired, grades 9-12; recommended for Civil Rights and Constitution, grades 9-12)