Review of Enabling Acts

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Rating

8

Qualities

  • Applicable
  • Important
  • Inspiring

Review

University of Illinois professor Lennard J. Davis explains that prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) disabled people in the United States faced obstacles in their daily lives without any governmental or legal support for equal treatment or access. Prior to the ADA, disabled people had no rights. This landmark legislation now entitles them to work, live, study, and access public transportation and other resources. Davis details what life was like for people with disabilities prior to the ADA, what life can be like for them now thanks to the ADA and how the ADA became law. Davis grew up with two deaf parents. He writes that people treated them like “troglodytes.” Because of the ostracism and discrimination his parents suffered, Davis demonstrates great empathy for – and insight into the struggles of – people with disabilities. His understanding comes through on every page of this comprehensive history of the ADA.

About the Author

Lennard J. Davis is distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

 

Life Before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

University of Illinois professor Lennard J. Davis details why Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the bedrock legislation that enables and protects people with disabilities. To understand how the ADA changed everything for disabled people, he describes what life was like for many people with disabilities prior to its passage in 1990.

Before the ADA, Lennard explains, many disabled people in the United States faced impossibly difficult situations of deprivation and diminishment. Most could not get jobs, conduct normal personal lives, find accommodations, or gain access to public facilities or transportation. The disabled faced barriers and impediments at every turn. There wasn't any proper housing. They had to deal with harmful stereotypes, shame, fear and overt discrimination. Many people with disabilities suffered constant emotional distress. People tended to treat them like children, as if they had little or no independent agency.


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