REUTERS

Sessions to Put the 'Dis' in Disability

Alarms are going off throughout the disability advocacy world over Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s decision to repeal 25 documents, including ten of which are very important Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidance, which he deemed are “outdated, used to circumvent the regulatory process, or that improperly goes beyond what is provided for in statutes or regulation should not be given effect.” This decision came after President Trump ordered each agency to go through their regulations and find things to modify, replace or eliminate.


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One regulation in particular that the advocacy world finds tough to swallow is a mandate on employment integration, which discourages working conditions that isolate people with disabilities such as vocational and day programs as well as segregated employment. While state and local government workplaces could offer these settings, they must provide their employees with disabilities with alternative options.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination released a statement saying, “We are extremely concerned about the withdrawal of this guidance document, both because it sends the wrong signal to public entities that are seeking to comply with the ADA and because it may reflect a diminished concern with the importance of providing employment services in the most integrated setting.”

Although taking away these documents will not have any residual effects on existing laws, it has the potential to create uncertainty as well as loopholes.

Sheltered workshops have been part of the American workplace for over 100 years. The debate on whether the shift from work centers to integrated employment is good or bad has been prevalent for quite some time. Detractors argue that isolating people while assigning them minimal tasks goes further in marginalizing them. According to NPR, in 2015, an estimated 300,000 people worked in sheltered workshops across the nation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2016, 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed.

The other area in which regulations are being revoked is in the housing sector. This document states that it is unlawful to deny persons with disabilities public housing based on one’s diagnosis or accommodations necessary such as accessibility. It also includes places of public accommodation so that individuals with disabilities can fully participate in everyday life.

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