Disability discrimination means prejudiced actions against disabled people. Discrimination and prejudice against disabled people is sometimes lumped together under the word “ableism.”
The government passed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to fight ableism. This has helped, but discrimination still exists.
What Discrimination Involves
Discrimination can happen on the basis of things like gender, LGBT+ identity, race, religion, and disability. It usually targets vulnerable groups.
Discrimination can happen at work, school, social occasions, the doctor’s office, and more. For example, ignoring qualified disabled candidates while hiring is discrimination. So is creating buildings that aren’t accessible.
Discrimination can start at a young age. Not all teachers act patient with disabled kids’ needs. Classmates might bully or ignore a disabled peer. As a result, disabled kids might end up feeling lonely and left out.
It’s not always easier for adults. Finding a job can be harder if employers don’t want to look past the disability. Unfortunately, services might not help enough.
Outside work, finding accessible hangout spots can be hard. Disabled people might have to turn down invitations if their friends insist on going to inaccessible places.
This hurts disabled people in many ways. They may become isolated and at higher risk for depression and anxiety. Also, hiring discrimination can hurt their finances and leave them without meaningful work.
People with disabilities and their supporters are calling for equality. Some lawmakers are paying attention and working on creating change.
The ADA is one of the biggest examples. It makes it illegal to discriminate against employees with disabilities.
The ADA addresses 5 major areas:
- Employment rights
- Public services
- Public accommodations
Private employers, governments, job agencies, and labor unions aren’t allowed to discriminate against disabled people. This includes hiring, firing, training, application, advancement, and pay.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) works to enforce the ADA. This helps keep things fair for disabled workers.
Thanks to this, more disabled people can find and keep jobs. This means they can be more independent, which is also good for their self-image and self-esteem. Disabled people have more control over their lives today.
Still a Problem
While things are getting better, there’s still more to do.
Businesses still discriminate. Employers want talented workers who create quality work under pressure. They might think disabled people can’t do this. Thus, they might overlook disabled candidates. They see them as a possible liability and ignore their strengths.
Without wages, disabled people have to depend on others. Many of them don’t get enough help. As a result, their quality of life suffers. They may be stuck isolated and in poverty.
Things are better, but they aren’t good enough yet.
Life has gotten better for disabled people, but it’s not enough. Discrimination still exists, and disabled people still get shut out.
It’s up to us to fight ableism. We can speak up to unfairness and prejudice. For example, we can fight for fair laws and tell people it’s not okay to make mean jokes. We can speak out when we see something wrong.
We can also choose inclusion. If a disabled friend can’t go to a certain place, we can find another hangout. We can smile and say hi to disabled people instead of ignoring them. And we can choose to see disabled people as normal people instead of burdens.
A lot of little actions over time can make a big difference.