Remembering George H. W. Bush And The Americans With Disabilities Act

In tribute to the late President George H. W. Bush who died less than a week ago, we would like to take the opportunity and highlight one of his key achievements and its ramifications on people with disabilities.

disabled man in wheelchair

“Old guys can still have fun and still do stuff”– George H. W. Bush

As a facility providing short-term rehabilitation services along with long-term skilled nursing care, Delmar Nursing and Rehabilitation’s doors are open to many people with disabilities. So we know just how important it is to have these needs met.

Disabilities and Discrimination

Until 1990 there was no law protecting individuals with disabilities from discrimination.

A boss could technically fire someone based on their physical or mental disability just because. They would also be able to withhold reasonable accommodations for them. They also wouldn’t be doing something illegal if they paid them less than other workers.

This situation clearly put disabled persons at an employment disadvantage.

But there was also nothing ‘wrong’ with discriminating against them in other areas of public life. Their needs simply didn’t have to be met.

Anyone dealing with a disabled family member knows how tough this situation can be.

The Americans With Disabilities ACT (ADA)

But all that changed in 1992 when Bush’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect.

The Act deals with five areas (“titles”) of public life:

  1. Employment – Employers with 15 or more employees need to provide accommodations for people with disabilities who are qualified for the job so that they can apply for the job and fill its major functions.
  2. State and Local Government – State and local governments along with their departments and agencies are required to make the necessary changes so that people with disabilities won’t be discriminated against. Public transportation, for example, is dealt with under this title.
  3. Public Accommodations – Title 3 forbids publicly owned places from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. It requires new facilities to provide necessary accessibility and existing ones to take away barriers if it doesn’t come at a big difficulty or expense. Another area this title deals with is communication with people that have disabilities with hearing, speaking, or seeing.
  4. Telecommunications – This one makes sure that people who have a hard time speaking and hearing can use the phone. It also makes sure that public service announcements funded by the federal government have closed captioning.
  5. Miscellaneous Provisions – Title 5 deals with the ADA in its entirety and how it fits into the bigger picture.

President George Bush sr. left his mark on the U.S. in many ways. The Americans with Disabilities Act is just one of them. But it is one that disabled people and the people who care about them will forever be grateful for.

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