Monday, August 2, 2010

American Disabilities Act, and a Fall That Opened My Eyes

"Though substantial progress has been made in education attainment for people with disabilities, other indicators suggest that there are still numerous roadblocks to equality.

Only 21 percent of all working-age disabled people are employed, compared with 59 percent of people without disabilities, according to a 2010 survey conducted by the National Organization on Disability in conjunction with the Kessler Foundation. Nearly half of people with disabilities (43 percent) reported they have experienced some form of job discrimination in their lifetimes. People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty than people without disabilities, and are significantly less likely to socialize with friends, relatives, or neighbors.

Strikingly, the survey reveals that 61 percent of disabled people believe that the Americans With Disabilities Act has made no difference in their lives."

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The ADA says that I'm entitled to a job, but it doesn't say employers can't change the job description to ensure that I don't qualify.  I applied for one job where I was told I was the front-runner until my health issues came up as a reason why I could not do one small portion of the job -- less than 1% of the time -- and I described how it could be worked around, offering even to pay the cost myself.  Suddenly, the job description was changed and the successful applicant had to speak Chinese.  Not because they had any clients who only spoke Chinese, but because it was the one thing on their second choice's resume' that was not on mine.  That meant that they were hiring her because she fit the (rewritten) job description, not that they weren't hiring me because I have a disability.
A large chain store rewrote their policy to say that every cashier must take a turn of doing certain physical tasks; voila, those who are disabled no longer qualify for cashier jobs.  And by getting rid of the disabled, the cost of the health insurance goes down.
People complain about the disabled being on the dole, but not about the fact that employers won't hire us nor about the fact that the government will spend billions to bail out millionaires who run Wall Street, but won't help the disabled become entrepreneurs.  VocRehab will place you in a job with someone else's company, but is not eager to find funding to help you start your own business so you won't be dependent on someone else's whim to replace you with a healthy person. 

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