An estimated one billion people around the world have disabilities. Many of them face a range of barriers, whether it is to healthcare, education or other essential services. Reports of disabled people being subjected to discrimination and violence are also heard from different parts of the world. In several countries there is also stigma attached to the birth of a disabled child and they are discriminated against throughout their life. However, over a period of time, there has been a significant improvement in the living conditions of differently- abled people, thanks to the push for disability rights in different parts of the world. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 is a major landmark, not only for differently – abled, not only in the United States but throughout the world. The act has been serving as a template to be followed, for it ensures equal treatment and equal access to services to those with disabilities, whether it is public accommodations or employment opportunities.
As mentioned earlier people with disabilities have had to fight centuries of social stigma, which resulted in their marginalization for centuries together. The situation continued to be worse during the 1800s with thousands of people with disabilities continued to live in impoverished conditions. It was only after the World War I that things began to take a turn for the good. War veterans in the United States began to push for their rights. The 1930s also saw gradual advancements in technology that promised a better quality of life for those with disabilities.
The war veterans put pressure on the government to provide them with vocational training. Their aggressive campaigning brought disability rights into sharp focus. This was a time when the differently-abled dint has access to even basic things such as bathrooms, telephones, and public transportation. This was also the time of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first American President with a disability.
Come the 1960s and the disability rights activists joined hands with the civil rights movement and began to seek equal opportunities. Parents of children with disabilities began to campaign for their children to be taken out of asylums and be given access to quality education, just like any other normal child.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) provided equal employment opportunities within the federal government for those with disability. The act also brought in access to public services, as well as allocation of funding for their vocational training.
After several decades of aggressive campaigning, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. The act was brought in to end discrimination of the differently-abled, whether it was in employment or other in places of public accommodation and transportation, among others. While the ADA has brought in a positive change in the lives of thousands of people, there is still a long way to go. People with disabilities, especially in the poor and the developing countries still continue to face stereotypical biases. However, there is no hope lost as disability rights movement has spread to such parts of the world, and it is only a matter of time before it results in the empowerment of the differently-abled people globally.