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Americans With Disabilities Act Reaches 20th Anniversary
Date:7/24/2010

d by Lex Frieden, one of the crafters of the original law who is now a professor of biomedical informatics with the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, found that two-thirds of people with disabilities feel the law has been the most significant influence on their lives in the past two decades. The respondents added that the greatest improvements have come in areas that include access for the disabled to public places, transportation and public awareness.

Signed into law in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with physical or mental disabilities from discrimination. A disability is defined as any condition that impairs one or more major life activities, and the law was expanded in 2008 to include chronic health conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and cancer.

Glazer said programs like Social Security, which pays cash and health benefits to people with disabilities who cannot work and earn less than $1,000 a month, discourages the disabled from re-entering the workforce. "We have to fix this system so people with disabilities can go back to work, whether it's temporary, part-time or full-time, without fear of immediately losing their safety net."

One bright spot in the survey is political participation, where the gap appeared to close completely in the 2008 Presidential election season. In the survey, 59 percent of both disabled and non-disabled people say they voted. In other election years, such as 1996 and 2000, the gap was higher.

President Obama included a disability platform in his campaign, which likely influenced voting rates, Glazer noted. Obama's initiatives include health reform, which will give the disabled better access to affordable health care, adding more workers with disabilities to the federal government workforce, and extending tax credits to businesses that do the same.

Even with this push from Washington, D.C., the majority of those in the disability community isn't convince
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