This July marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
It is a civil law that prohibits discrimination based on a disability. The Act makes it unlawful for a company to ask whether an applicant has a disability and to what degree. As someone who was recently on the job hunt, I recall a number of online applications that asked just this. The fact that an employer would deter from an applicant because of a disability can be devastating to the population of those with disabilities when it comes to finding employment and advancing in their careers. Below are some interesting numbers from Senator Tom Harkin, who authored the final Bill, and spoke at the City Club of Chicago’s 2015 ADA luncheon:
- Unemployment for those with a disability is at 60%
- There is a 3:1 ratio for people laid off with disabilities to people without
- 40% of unemployed working age people with disabilities are actively seeking gainful employment. Also, 70% of that 40% are preparing themselves for employment through pursuing higher education and seeking medical help to improve their abilities
- In a survey, 36% of people with disabilities said they were denied jobs because the employer assumed they could not complete the necessary duties
The ADA continues to build awareness, instate new laws and design standards in support of those with disabilities in the workforce.