According to a webpage sponsored by cliffnotes.com, Prejudice and discrimination have been rampant in human history. Prejudice is the irrational and unchanged attitudes and people’s opinions held by individuals of one group towards another, while discrimination is the behaviors shown towards another group (“sociology”).Experiencing prejudice entails dealing with beliefs about a given group of people and cultural practices. Whether positive negative, prejudice in these forms are always preconceived. Discrimination is negative forms of prejudice, which is practiced by those who want to deny to people opportunities that they believe need not be given the same treatment as other people. Judging by historical records, America has embraced people with two kind of disability; children with disability who invoke pity, and heroic figures who have beaten all odds to overcome the plight of disability to interact with into their inaccessible environment. An example of a person with disability who has experienced prejudice and discrimination is Sylvia Flexer Bassoff. She uses crutches and wears leg brace.
Many positions needed candidates to have a physical test even though the position required little physical exercise in 1935, when Frank Roosevelt was campaigning for the Works Progress Administration, in order to exclude people with disabilities. “In my naivety, I thought I’d graduate from Drake Business School and they’d all come for me,” she says as tears well up in her eyes. Any graduates received work that were not as good as mine, and they did not begin to be as good as I was. Finally, I was employed by the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities, which only hired people with disabilities. It was a huge blunder. I have no idea what to do.” Sylvia has seen frequent inequality in public education, in addition to limited job openings. Earlier this year, the courts affirmed the refusal of public transportation agencies to transport persons with disabilities. Furthermore, immigration rules restricted people with disabilities. According to Longmore and Goldberge, several states attempted to sterilize, prohibit marriage between, and imprison persons with disabilities in order to prevent the “unfit” from reproducing. While private health care is accessible to individuals with disabilities, it is not necessarily affordable, even when it is, it does not include expenses such as assistive technology or occupational therapy. Medicaid and Medicare are crucial in delivering health services to individuals with disabilities in the United States. Despite the progress of the Persons with Disabilities Education Act and many young people with disabilities, the number of university and college graduates and applications for people with disabilities are well below national levels. People with disabilities are also discriminated against by both private and public employees. Furthermore, the federal government’s medicaid programs do not have adequate benefits for people with disabilities who choose to live. In the meanwhile, insufficient state and private support for homes for people with disabilities has placed the promise of adequate housing for this minority community in doubt. The bulk of them are unemployed and unable to manage the skyrocketing housing rents in recent years.
The Disability Experiences
Sylvia narrates that America’s public health systems are largely focused on prevention of disability rather than preventive health services for people with disabilities. There has been limited accessible and health services that are affordable to people with disabilities. In addition to this, there bureaucratic and inefficient government programs, environmental factors which render people with disabilities in poor health. As a result, studies have shown that people with disabilities are two and a half times likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and other chronic diseases. Sydney Case who is a well-known disability activist, fears going to her gynecologist “part of the problem is the lack of proper equipment, such as lower examination tables” Case continues “but by far the worst cause of dread is the lack of sensitivity.” (Qtd. In New mobility 13) most nurses who attend to them are insensitive to the plight of people with disability.
Today in as much as people with disabilities have opportunities to live independent lives and be productive in their communities, they still face enormous challenges that could lead to the emergence of state supported institutions. They experience poor educational opportunities, high poverty levels, and high unemployment and over dependence on public benefits have been a hindrance for people with disabilities from achieving independence and living productive lives. In addition to this, property values and average rent prices have gone up in recent times, aggravating the problem of affordable and accessible housing in United States for people with disabilities. Studies show that more than one million children with disabilities by late 1968 were still barred from public schools. Sylvia says that “more than half of all the children with disability attending public schools were barred from accessing services and settings provided with children without disabilities.” These children would sit idly and then opt to dropping out of school.
Massive progress have been made since the mid-1960’s as statistics show, more than six million students who have disabilities have received special educational services. Most of them are educated in neighborhood schools and in regular classrooms with non-disabled students. Graduation rates, as well as employment rates for youth under individuals with disability education act (IDEA), have doubled than those of adults with similar disabilities. Sylvia recalls of the amendment of public law in 1997 that specified that every student with disability should receive an individual education program tailored to their specific needs. The law challenged parents to challenge school districts to provide adequate education programs, and also giving them the right to appeal decisions by school systems through mediation and court hearings.
States and federal governments are turning away towards financing community based services and are supports that are giving a chance to people with severe disabilities to live in regular communities. These are less costly than larger institutions.
Housing amendments act of 1968 brought a relief to people with disabilities since now they could access housing. Consistent with section 504, the law prohibited discrimination and denial by landlords or property owners to make reasonable accommodations, which included changes in policies, rules, services or practices that were necessary for a person with disability to use and enjoy a living.
Sylvia is happy that the Cranston-Gonzalez national affordable housing Act of 1990 created section 811 that is supportive housing for persons with disabilities. The new program recognized the right of people with disabilities to live in the less restrictive environments possible and the role of mission-driven non-governmental organizations in developing, owning and operating supportive housing.
The Disability Rights
The 1990 American Disability Act marked the pinnacle of advocacy for individuals with disabilities. This law prohibits prejudice against persons with disabilities and ensures that they have equal access to both public and private accommodations. Mr. Justin Dart Jr., Sylvia remembers, was a strong advocate for this act and for the needs of persons with disabilities in general. She follows Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was signed into legislation in 1973. This provision states that no individual with a disability shall be discriminated against because of his disability, nor should he be disqualified from participating or refused benefits because of discrimination on any federally funded initiative or operation. Disabled people’s interests were upheld under this statute, and they were granted self-respect as full citizens of community. Americans with disabilities experienced inequality in educational schools, accommodation, jobs, and transportation, as well as fair access to medical services and public buildings at the time this provision was signed into law. In other nations, such as the United Kingdom, the Disability Prejudice Act of 1995 was enacted following years of campaigning for disabled individuals. Discrimination against persons with disabilities in housing, schooling, and transportation became unconstitutional as a result of this.
Sylvia is a part of the Americans with Disabilities Alliance. This campaign calls for the rights of people with disabilities to achieve inclusion in the workplace and in daily events that once excluded them. Sylvia remembers their campaign staging a national rally in 1977, demanding that the rules for Section 504 of the Recovery Act be signed.
Millions of disabled persons in the United States have untapped economic and social opportunities. Stereotyping and restrictive practices also made it more difficult for people with disabilities to obtain jobs, health services, schooling, and housing. People with disabilities must be encouraged to be self-sufficient and active members of their families. For disability rights movement to be effective, they need to marshal and build broad-based grassroots movements, which can unify individuals to a common purpose. This will be important in changing perception about people with disabilities and to reinforce support within the disability community itself.
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