The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in July 1990, and this month we celebrate the 26th anniversary of this remarkable legal decision. While much work still needs to be done in the way in which society treats those who are disabled, the ADA has changed a great deal in several spheres to give more freedom and access to services to people with both mental and physical disabilities. While ADA is thought of mostly in the job sector for adults, it also plays vital roles in government services and accessibility to public resources. Parents of Special Education Children should learn more about this watershed act that shapes so much of what we do today.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was sponsored by Tom Harkin and was passed in 1990. It led to several other famous acts that further changed the legal landscape for special needs children and adults throughout the country. These included the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA, the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992, the Work Incentive Improvement Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, or 1993. The one that most affects the children we serve in Los Angeles County is IDEA, which requires schools and parents of special needs children to create Individualized Educational Plans. These plans help to determine how a child will be educated, what special resources he or she will require and what the least restrictive atmosphere is for the child while learning.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act has changed how special needs children and adults are treated and has given them more freedoms, it has not completely repaired all the problems that these individuals face. These people do not always have the least restrictive environments that they deserve for living situations or for medical care. They also struggle to find employment in many instances when they reach adulthood.