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Running head: POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER

Policy Analysis Paper


Bryan Blattert
SW 4710
October 10, 2015

POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER

Policy Analysis Paper


The disabled population in America is at a severe disadvantage, making it more difficult
for people with disabilities to be successful in life. People with disabilities face discrimination in
the workplace, housing, public accommodations, recreation, communication, transportation,
education, health services, voting, access to public services, and institutionalization (Kopels,
1995, pp. 337). According to Kopels (1995), people with disabilities are the poorest, least
educated, and largest minority population in America (pp. 337). A person who is disabled is at a
disadvantage when comparing to others. Twenty-eight percent of working adults with disabilities
have total incomes-including social welfare and family assistance-that place them below the
poverty line (Kopels, 1995, 337). As time passes, the disabled population is growing and falling
further behind. According to Kopels (1995), in 1980, men and women with disabilities earned
up to 30% less than men and women with no work disabilities (337). In 1988, figures showed
earned incomes of people with disabilities to be up to 38% less than their counterparts (p. 377).
People with disabilities have limited opportunities, accommodations, and accessibility. The
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its entirety is useful both to understand and alleviate
poverty, oppression, and discrimination (Kopels. 1995, 377).
What is Disability?
The term disability is difficult to define clearly; it can have many different meanings.
Harris (1998) defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one
or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment or being
regarded as having such an impairment (pp.576).

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Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Before the ADA, people with disabilities were provided minimal relief from the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The ADA was born from the rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was
enacted to prohibit discrimination towards people with disabilities. According to the United
States Department of Justice (2009), the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis
of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial
assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors. The
rehabilitation shares many things in common with the ADA, and contains many of the standards
for determining discrimination in the workplace that Title I of the ADA contains.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Congress enacted the American with Disabilities act on July 26, 1990 (Kopels, 1995, pp.
338). Two years later the law would become effective. The Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) was created to combat the poverty and oppression experienced by the disabled. There are
five titles that comprise the Act, Title I, II, III, IV, and V. Each title prohibits discrimination
against people with disabilities in certain areas of life. Title I was enacted to prohibit
discrimination in the work place, creating equal opportunity for individuals regarding hiring and
promotion. Title II requires public transportation to be accessible and also requires state and local
governments to give people with disabilities equal access to all of their programs services and
activities (U.S Department of Justice, (2009). Title III requires private and public entities to be
accessible for those who are disabled. Title IV prohibits state and local governments from
discriminating. Title V requires public telecommunications to be accessible.

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ADA Title I: Employment

As of July 26, 1994, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers
with 15 or more employees from discriminating against individuals who are qualified in
applying, hiring, promotion, wage, training, and other privileges of employment (Kopels, 1995,
pp.337). According to Karger and Stoesz (2014), under Title I, employers can ask about ones
ability to perform a task but cannot inquire if someone is disabled or not; furthermore, employers
must provide reasonable accommodations such as restructuring and modification of equipment
employees with disabilities (p. 83). In attempt to create equal opportunity in employment, the
section of the Act focuses on creating an equal playing field for people with disabilities.
According to Slack (1995), people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are protected under Title I from workplace
discrimination. The idea behind Title I is creating an equal opportunity in the will effectively
combat the severe risk of poverty the disabled population is threatened by. Title I of the
Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to combat poverty by prohibiting discrimination in
employment (Kopels, 1995, pp. 338).
ADA Title II: State and Local Government Activities
Title II prohibits discrimination in public transportation and in state and local government
activities. The first part of Title II covers discrimination in state and local government activities.
According to the U.S Department of Justice (2009), Title II covers all activities of state and local
governments regardless of size or receipt of Federal funding. Title II requires state and local
governments to give people with disabilities equal opportunity to benefit from their activities,
programs, and services (U.S Department of Justice, 2009). Activities offered by state and local
governments can include courts, voting, social services, employment, transportation, public

POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER

schools, recreation, and health care. Government entities are required to follow specific building
standards in the new construction and alteration of their buildings (U.S Department of Justice,
2009).

ADA Title II: Public Transportation


The second portion of Title II covers public transportation. The public transportation
provision covers services offered to the public such as city buses and trains, ensuring their
services are accessible to the disabled. Title II transportation provision was created to prevent
public transportation authorities from discriminating against people with disabilities in the
provision of their services (U.S Department of Justice, 2009).
ADA Title III: Public Accommodations
Americans with Disabilities Act Title III covers private entities that offer services to the
public. According to the U.S Department of Justice (2009), these services consist of but are not
limited to restaurants, retail stores, hotels, theaters, private schools, zoos, day care centers, sports
stadiums, funeral homes, and fitness clubs. Title III was implemented to prohibit discrimination
by ensuring public accommodation are made for people with disabilities (Kopels, 1995, pp. 337)
Public transportation was covered in Title II while Title III covers privately ran transportation.
Under Title III, professional courses and examinations such as licensing, certifications, and
trade-related applications must be held in a place accessible to people with disabilities (U.S
Department of Justice, 2009). When building new or remodeling, commercial facilities are
required to follow the ADAs guidelines. According to Karger and Stoesz (2014), auxiliary aids
must be provided to those with vision or hearing impairments under Title III (p. 83).

POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER

ADA Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services


Title IV covers telecommunications services offered to the public. According to the U.S
Department of Justice, (2009), Title IV telephone and television access must be made available
to those with hearing and speech disabilities. Titles I through IV attempt to combat
discrimination against people with all types of disabilities in a wide variety of areas. What the
Americans with Disabilities act is trying to accomplish is a difficult task, it is near impossible to
create and implement standards that cover every situation for every type of disability. For this
reason, continuous revision of the act is needed.
Americans who Support the Act
The act was initially signed by President George Bush twenty-five years ago. According
to Shannon-Missal (2015), 83% of people who have seen, heard or read anything about the
legislation say they agree and support the Act (para. 1). Strong support of the Americans with
Disabilities Act is universal from Americans across demographic, socioeconomic, and political
lines (Shannon-Missal, 2015, para. 3). When looking at specific provisions and titles of the Act,
support is strong in all categories. Support is strong in regards to the employment standards set
forth by Title I. Three-fourths (75%) are in favor of the provision in Title I, requiring employers
with more than 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for employees with
disabilities (Shannon-Missal, 2015, para. 3). Eighty-Eight (88%) percent of Americans are in
support of the legislation prohibiting employers from discrimination against qualified individuals
on the basis of a disability (Shannon-Missal, 2015, para. 3). Over eight in ten (83%) support the
provisions in Title II, the provisions require public transportation vehicles be made accessible for
people with disabilities (Shannon-Missal, 2015, para 3). Public accommodations standards

POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER

detailed in Title III received strong support from Americans as well. Roughly nine in ten (90%)
U.S. adults support accommodations in public places so they are not discrimination against
customers based on their disability (Shannon-Missal, 2015, para. 3). Affected interests are the
main group opposing specific provisions of the Act. Affected interests lobby within the
government during the drafting of such Acts to better the outcomes, promoting their own
interests.
Governing bodies of the ADA
The creation of policies like the Americans with Disabilities Act takes contribution on
multiple levels. The policies are dictated by federal statute and implemented by federal, state,
and local governments (Bishop and Jones, 1995, pp. 124). According to Bishop and Jones
(1993), after Congress and the President create a law, administrative agencies are tasked with the
responsibility of crafting definitions, guidelines, and regulations for enforcement (p. 123).
Policies once do not enforce themselves once they are issued. A structure is need to regulate and
enforce policies such as the ADA. According to Bishop and Jones (1993), enforcing the
standards is the job of the national government since the ADA is a civil rights law (pp. 125).
Bishop and Jones (1993) cite eight agencies within the federal government to be responsible for
enforcing the ADA; the agencies include the Department of Agriculture, Education, Health and
Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice Labor, and Transportation
(pp. 126). The overlapping of multiple agencies is thought to create confusion and problems
when enforcing the ADA. The agency in charge of enforcing a violation depends on the area of
the ADA that is being enforced. Local and state governments take part in implementing the laws
and standards as well. Local and state governments use these standards to draft regulations and
codes that are required within their districts.

POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER

Personal Critique
The Americans with Disabilities Act has made great strides for people living with
disabilities. What began with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has now turned into something so
wide spread as the ADA. The ADA attempts to cover all avenues of discrimination towards
people with disabilities. The standards when implemented and enforced properly are very
affective. I believe the ADA created great relief for people with disabilities, and reduces the
amount of discrimination taking place today. Experiencing the difficulties of being disabled
today leaves me sympathetic towards people with disabilities before the ADA was enacted. I
have been able to experience the relief from the ADA first hand. I was injured during a
motocross race five years ago and suffered a spinal cord injury. My injury left me paralyzed from
the chest down and now I require a wheelchair for mobility. Before my injury, I would walk in
and out of stores, restaurants, bathrooms, gas stations, up north cabins, and down the beaches not
thinking about whether these places were accessible for those living with a disability. Being
someone who counts on the comforts provided by the ADA now, I notice it all because I simply
cant take part in something because the place or area is inaccessible. I notice many changes
made to buildings, structures, and areas that enable me to freely move about just like any other
person; however, twenty-five years after the ADA was enacted by congress there are still a lot of
places that are not accessible to people with disabilities. The ADA has helped generate fairness,
just not in every way a disabled person is impacted by their disability. The main issues I
experience are directed towards wheelchair users since it takes so much room for mobility. I find
myself not being able to use the restroom in places, sometimes having to catheterize myself in
the middle of a restroom. When there are accessible stalls, it seems people prefer to take those

POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER

instead of considering the disabled person who may need it. Better signage and awareness would
be great to impact that issue. I think most people use accessible places, spaces, and things
without even thinking that someone else who may need it more will lose access to it. I think
more awareness and stricter enforcement or penalties would help the implementation of
accessible standards. Lastly, with multiple agencies overlapping in the complaint enforcing
process seems to create cracks and confusion. Ultimately the complaint is delegated to the
leading agency. Creating a federal agency that strictly handles the ADA, regulating, enforcing,
and updating will only make it a stronger law. This will create a more effective ADA, keeping it
from being just another thing on an overloaded agencys plate. Diller (1998), criticizes the act,
saying it conflicts with other social welfare acts such as social security. The conflicting issue is
they undercut each other. Again pointing to the blended government contribution.
Personal Interview
An interview was conducted with a professional level social worker to gain insight on the
Americans with Disabilities Act and how social workers view its effectiveness. The interviewee
was Miranda Rusnica LLBSW, a licensed social worker with a bachelors in social work. Rusnica
attended Eastern Michigan University to gain her social work training and her BSW. She is
currently enrolled in the MSW program at Eastern Michigan University. Rusnica has worked in
the field of social work for two years and have a lot of experience in the hospital, home, and
public setting. She performed visits to patients in all three settings and deals with many people
who are temporarily and permanently disabled. Rusnica believes the policy has created relief for
the disabled. She has witnessed situations where building codes and accommodations have been
successful and she also discussed places that she has seen that were not. Rusnica believes
stronger enforcement of the standards needs to take place, stating there are places out there that

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people with disabilities cannot use, and those places need to change to better accommodate every
person. Rusnica believes the Act does a good job in providing relief for all people with
disabilities; she also believes that stricter enforcement of building standards needs to take place.
Rusnica has witnessed many situations where a place was not made easily accessible for people
in wheelchairs, both while she was with friends and while working. Rusnica believes the policy
will need constant revision to adapt to new situations that arise over time. She believes the policy
could be more effective if stronger enforcement took place. She would like to see funding be
made available to assist business owners in making their buildings accessible to those who are
disabled; this way, the changes will not occur when the owner decides to remodel on his own.
Her hope is that it will influence renovations to make more places accessible.
Conclusion
Statistics demonstrate how people with disabilities are at a disadvantage compared to
those without. With the rising number of people who are disabled, and the rising number of
unemployed disabled, the government needed to take action. They initially took action with the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and later reformed it to create the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990. The ADA contained four major sections or titles, Titles I-IV. The titles cover
discrimination in employment, transportation, state and local governments, accommodation, and
telecommunications. Each title drafted to relieve discrimination against people with disabilities
in the major areas they were at risk in. The vast majority of Americans are in support of the ADA
and agree with the goals set forth. Governing, implementing, and enforcing has proved to be a
difficult task and has received some criticism. The main issue is the number of governing bodies
involved to handle a complaint and enforcing the regulations. The number of agencies creates
and overlapping effort and sometimes conflicting effort. In my own opinion, I believe the ADA is

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an effective tool but could be made more effective. With my experience from being in a
wheelchair, I would like to see stronger enforcement in accessible standards to enable mobility
for all people. During a personal interview with a social work professional, she cited many of the
same issues. However, she did believe the ADA has narrowed the inequality experienced by
people living with disabilities. Constant reform and updating will likely get the ADA to the point
it needs to be in the future, growing the number of life opportunities that are available for people
with disabilities.

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References
Bishop, P., & Jones, A. (1993). Implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: Assessing the
Variables of Success. Public Administration Review, 121-128. Retrieved September 25, 2015,
from JSTOR.
The article written by Bishop and Jones started by provided a detailed overview of the ADA.
Their information was very helpful when gaining insight on the individual titles that make up the
act. The authors made a point to state who was covered by the title as well as those left out by the
legislation. Bishop and Jones further explain the ADA by discussing the regulatory agencies and
those responsible for implementing the ADA.
Diller, M. (1998). Dissonant disability policies: The tensions between the Americans with Disabilities
Act and federal disability benefit programs, Texas Law Review, 76(5), 1003-1082. Retrieved
September 25, 2015, from ProQuest.
This article provides and in depth look at the contradictions between the ADA and other relief
acts such as social security. The ADA is not the only relief for the disabled, leaving crossing lines
between the ADA. Diller explains areas in need of reform and those that need more clarity.
Harris, E. (1998). Controlled impairments under the Americans with Disabilities Act: A search for the
meaning of "disability", Washington Law Review, 575-608. Retrieved September 26, 2015, from
ProQuest.
In this article, Harris provides an in depth search and explanation of the meaning of disability.
She provides a compare and contrast to the ADA; Harris does this by pointing out parts that need

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clarity and searching for the meaning of others. The author navigates her way through the ADA
to reach the definition of disability.
Karger, H., & Stoesz, D. (2014). Discrimination in American Society. In American social welfare
policy: A pluralist approach (Seventh ed., pp. 82-83). Pearson Education.
In this book, the authors wrote a section in chapter 4 on people with disabilities. The authors
discuss the severe disadvantages faced by the disabled population. They further prove their
statement with statistics demonstrates the problems faced by the disabled. Towards the end of the
section, they provided an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Kopels, S. (1995). The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Tool to Combat Poverty. Journal of Social
Work Education, 31(3). Retrieved September 23, 2015, from JSTOR.
In this article, Sandra Kopels details the statistics that demonstrate the discrimination faced by
people with disabilities. Kopels discusses a brief overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act
and why it was implemented. Kopels details the changes made in social work education in order
to reduce the risk of poverty for the disabled. Kopels ended the article by providing exercises for
social work education.
Rusnica, M. (2015, September 26). Opinion on ADA [Telephone interview].
This phone interview was conducted with Miranda Rusnica, a LLBSW who is currently
employed as a social worker in the field. Rusnica is also a current student in Eastern Michigans
MSW program. Rusnica was able to provide insight into the difficulties she has witnessed with
those who are disabled. She provided her opinion on the effectiveness of the ADA and where she
believes it needs improvement.

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Shannon-Missal, L. (2015). Overwhelming Public Support For the Americans with Disabilities Act, But
Disagreements Exist on What Should Qualify as a Disability. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
This article provides information and statistics on research polls taken in America. The polls
conducted were to help determine the amount of support the ADA has in America. The article
lists the voting support for each Title under the ADA.
Slack, J. (1995). The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Workplace: Management's Responsibilities
in AIDS-Related Situations. Public Administration Review, 365-370. Retrieved September 29,
2015, from JSTOR.
In this article, Slack discusses the rights and protection for those with HIV/AIDS under the
Americans with disabilities act. He details the actions to take if a person is diagnosed with
HIV/AIDS. Slack also gives instruction on how employers and management are legally obligated
to handle certain situations with those living with the disease.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, The Americans with Disabilities Act. (2009).
Information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Retrieved from
http://www.ada.gov/
The Americans with Disabilities website provided information on all aspects of the ADA. The
website contains sections detailing design standards, enforcement, law/regulations, and technical
assistance materials. Each section provided a detailed overview of that particular area of the
ADA. Other helpful information included the revised ADA regulations.