Monday, August 3, 2015

Happy Birthday, ADA!

Recently the American's with Disabilities Act celebrated it's 25th birthday. Since I was pretty young when it passed, I don't really know what life was like before it. (For a great article on that by the person who actually wrote the ADA, see the Washington Post). But I do know that it has helped me.

Not everyone realizes that chronic illnesses, including lupus, are considered disabilities under the ADA. That means that employers cannot fire me because I have lupus, and are required to make reasonable accommodations for my illness. What's a reasonable accommodation? It can be something as simple as giving a person a chair to sit on instead of making her stand for her job. Not a big deal, you might think, but without the ADA someone could be fired because she couldn't physically stand for 8 hours.

In today's world of polarized politics, it's nice to remember an Act that passed with broad bipartisan support, especially because it changed the world for the better. There's still much work to be done (only 17.4% of disabled adults are employed, compared to 64% of non-disabled adults), but the ADA was a major milestone in the push for equality. So, happy birthday, ADA, and may you continue to help people in many years to come.

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