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BY Robin

Americans With Disabilities: Know Your Rights!

To love someone with a disability means to be affected daily by inaccessibility and unfairness in the world around you.

For those of us who live in the United States, there is something that each of us can rely on as a powerful tool in our arsenal for advocacy: the Americans with Disabilities Act.

However the bill itself is quite daunting and encompasses disability-related standards on employment, government actions and responsibilities, the accessibility of public buildings, small business tax incentives, service animals and so much more!

To help you get a better understanding of the Americans With Disabilities Act I have prepared a series of posts that will to guide you through the system.

To start here are some basic points of what you should be aware of.

1. Every day concerns for individuals with a disability

Create a basic list of your day-to day concerns that you may have when it comes to accessibility.

For Example:
• Accessibility: “I can’t physically get in/around or use that safely.

• Employment: “I don’t feel I am treated equally as others or receive fair opportunities because of my disability.

• Transportation: “Getting from Point A to Point B is tougher for me than it needs to be.”

• Reporting: How do I report an ADA infringement and who can I contact to make change?”

• Allowances: “What things am I specially allowed to do or to have as an aid to myself due to my disability?”

2. Which law governs your concern?

While the ADA is a federal bill, and its laws cross state lines, there are a few other entities that are governed by other sets of laws.

Some  examples:
• Airports and Flights: disability concerns governed by the Air Carrier Access Act 

• Education: Parental and student rights from birth through pre-collegiate education is governed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). College on the other hand reverts back to the ADA.

• Voting Facilities and Assistance: Accessibility and accommodations in voting is governed by the National Voter Registration Act (a.k.a “Motor Voter Act”)

3. Who do I contact when you see a violation?

If you feel like your rights are being violated what should you do? Here are some places you can turn to for help.

Find an investigating agency

• Contact the city or town’s Chamber of Commerce

• Call, email, or write the city’s mayor or attend a Town Council

• Contact the City Manager (when dealing with a structural or public physical barrier)

Stay tuned to the Friendship Circle blog for my next post looking at specific parts of the ADA to know about!


Written on November 16, 2012 by:

Robin Bennett has been a strong advocate of all individuals with disabilities since her own diagnosis at age 12 of Friedreich’s Ataxia left her dependent on a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Graduated in 2009 from Eastern Michigan University (EMU) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Creative Writing and Theater, Robin is currently pursuing her Master’s of Public Administration at EMU. She has worked and written for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living and Integrated Living Solutions.. Robin enjoys laughing with friends, being a mentor to adults with developmental disabilities and proving that a book cannot be judged by its cover.