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United States – Disability

Disability in the United States has been a subject of ongoing discussion and legislation for several decades. The country has made significant progress in terms of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities, but there are still challenges to be addressed.

Common Attitudes to Disability in the United States

In the United States, people with disabilities have a legal right to equal treatment and opportunities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Despite this legal protection, negative attitudes and stereotypes about people with disabilities still exist in society.

One common attitude towards people with disabilities in the United States is pity or a sense of them being burdens on society. This attitude can lead to a lack of respect for the individuality and potential of people with disabilities, as well as a lack of investment in accommodations and resources for their full inclusion in society.

Another common attitude is the “supercrip” stereotype, where people with disabilities are seen as heroic for overcoming their limitations. This can be harmful because it places unrealistic expectations on people with disabilities to constantly overcome their disabilities, which can lead to burnout and stress.

Discrimination and Legislation Issues

Despite the ADA’s legal protections, discrimination against people with disabilities in the United States still exists in various forms. One significant issue is employment discrimination, where people with disabilities are not given equal opportunities for employment and may face workplace discrimination.

Housing discrimination is another issue, where landlords or property owners may refuse to rent or sell to individuals with disabilities or may not make necessary accommodations to their properties.


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In addition, people with disabilities in the United States often face systemic barriers to accessing healthcare and education, as well as social stigma and discrimination.

There have been several legislative efforts to address these issues. The ADA, passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas of public life, including employment, education, and transportation. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), passed in 1975 and amended in 2004, provides guidelines for the education of children with disabilities.

Public Transport and Building Access

In the United States, public transport and building access for people with disabilities have improved significantly over the years, thanks to legislation such as the ADA.

Public transport systems in many cities now have accessible buses and trains, as well as paratransit services for people with disabilities who cannot use regular public transport. However, accessibility can still be inconsistent, especially in rural areas.

Building access has also improved, with many buildings now required to have ramps, accessible entrances, and elevators. However, older buildings that predate the ADA may not have these accommodations, and some newer buildings may not comply with accessibility guidelines.

Lobbying/Advocacy Groups

There are many organizations in the United States that advocate for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. Some of the most prominent include:

  • The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN): A nonprofit organization that works to protect and advance the rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, public policy, and education.

  • The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL): A membership organization that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities to live independently and fully participate in society.

  • The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF): A national law and policy center that advocates for the civil rights of people with disabilities.

  • The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD): A national membership organization that advocates for the political and economic power of people with disabilities.

All of these organizations offer resources and support for people with disabilities, as well as opportunities for advocacy and activism.


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