The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law that protects equal rights and opportunities for all people. No matter their abilities or disabilities all individuals should have opportunities and access to all objects available to the general public. The Act recognizes not only the discrimination and biases that individuals with disabilities face, it also addresses the need to live in an inclusive society where all people are recognized for their skills, potentials, and contributions. Therefore, the ADA works to help not only individuals but society at large. The Act encourages all business and organizations to limit discriminatory practices from the organizational environment. The ADA helps us identify the need, the rights, and the reasonable accommodations required to provide equal rights and opportunities for all people.
Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA was established in 1990 and applied to law in 1992. It addresses reforms in equal rights, access, and discrimination of people living with disabilities. Through the policies of this Act, it “guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life”, (Introduction to the ADA, 2013). This includes the ability to obtain employment without discrimination and have equal access to establishments within the hospitality industry. Consequently, this Act models the Civil Rights Act that was applied to law in the mid 1960’s. With the help of this Act people with disabilities are protect by law and allowed equality and civil rights observed by the healthy population.
While many of us identify people with disabilities as those who are blind or in a wheel chair, the ADA strictly defines who is considered disabled and thus protected by law. The ADA defines disability as, “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment”, (Introduction to the ADA, 2013). In this way, the definition of disability is broad. This not only includes people with a physical handicap but those with mental impairments as well. One does not have to be fully blind to be considered disabled nor do they have to be completely crazy. Individuals can have a medical problem or defect or a temporary disability such as a broken leg. Therefore, all ranges and varieties of disabilities are considered which includes 43 million people who are protected under the laws of this Act, (Woods & King, 2010).
The American Disabilities Act requires that people with disabilities are provided with “reasonable accommodations”. Many of these accommodations begin with building access. People in wheelchairs, those who are obese, or suffer from prolonged movement may have difficulties navigating a large hotel and resort or restaurant. To accommodate these people, entities within the hospitality industry are required to give people with disabilities access to the hotel including elevators, wheelchair ramps, and staff assistance. “Reasonable accommodations” also applies for people with disabilities who are employed with a company. For those with disabilities who work, the company must accommodate their special needs. One example is someone with poor vision. To help this individual work productively, the business must make accommodations by providing magnification tools for computer screens and brail signs. By accommodating the needs of the general disabilities population, businesses are adhering to the ADA. This reduces incidents of discrimination and improving their overall quality of life. However, making reasonable accommodations may not be easy especially for those in the workforce. As such, managers must manage diversity and an inclusive environment by helping staff interact appropriately with those with disabilities. This will reduce harmful effects such as rude or bias behaviors and negative assumptions.
Introduction to the ADA. (2013). Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with
Disabilities Act. United States Department of Justice and Civil Rights Division. Retrieved from: http://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm
Woods, R., King, J. (2010). Leadership and Management in the Hospitality Industry. 3rd ed. The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. Pearson Education. Print.