Thinking about the future can be nerve-racking for someone living with a disability. Especially for those living with vision impairments, learning new skills and gaining an education can take longer and require more tools and more money than the average student. Thriving in the workforce may sound like a far off ambition, and for many decades it was. However, in 1990, George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law and brought renewed hope to thousands of Americans living with a disability.
The ADA’s employment provisions fall under the discretion of a federal agency called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This agency enforces all laws regarding workforce discrimination, including those based on sex and religion. The EEOC was established in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Originally this commission focused primarily on racial discrimination in the workplace. However, it has since grown to protect numerous groups that have historically been mistreated in the United States.
The ADA is a critical law for those living with disabilities, including low vision. Our friends at Vision Aware created a great guide to knowing your rights as they relate to ADA. Specifically, Title 1 of the ADA forbids employers from discriminating against candidates based on a known disability. Additionally, ADA prevents an employer from rescinding a job offer or terminating employment with an individual due to a disability, as long as the individual can perform the “essential functions” of the job.
The ADA’s protections also extend beyond the workplace, preventing discrimination in various other parts of one’s life such as education, housing, and healthcare. For example, landlords are required to make accommodations for residents who need guide dogs, even if the building has a rule that disallows pets. The ADA was enacted to help those living with disabilities thrive in every aspect of their life, and have just as many opportunities as Americans living without disabilities.
The most important thing you can do when it comes to living with a disability is to learn your rights! The more you know about what your employer can and cannot do and say, the better prepared you’ll be to advocate for yourself and others in the workplace. Visit the ADA website today for more resources, and never forget to speak up for yourself!
For more information about The ADOA Association, or to share how YOU thrive in the workforce, contact us.