Whether you have a disability or not, we all have the same rights – to be able to access the places and services we need to, to be able to work, to be included, and to be treated with respect. In 1990, the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, forbidding discrimination on the ground of disability in relation to work, places to stay, and public and private transport, amongst other things – and since then, the US Courts service state there have been over 40,000 disability rights cases filed in the district courts. So what is being done to address this issue?
Social security advocacy
Many eligible disabled people struggle to receive the benefits they are entitled to – the process can be tricky, and sometimes claims are denied unfairly. Initiatives such as the New York Legal Assistance Group’s Disability Advocacy Project help to ensure this doesn’t happen, assisting individuals to access the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs. Free access to legal advice and representation can make a really big difference if you’re unsure where to go next after an unsuccessful claim.
Specialist disability lawyers
Every person is different, and so is the way that each disability affects a person. That being said, there are some conditions with common symptoms and issues which often give rise to specific legal claims. Many of those with cerebral palsy, for example, may encounter inequality of access to the sport of activity, or experience bullying behavior due to misunderstanding on the part of other people. In these cases, specialist cerebral palsy lawyers that understand how to best represent the interests of those with cerebral palsy will be needed to navigate the details of legal claims.
The impact of technology
New York has a high number of ADA cases, and this is thought to be due to its age as a city, as it has many public buildings and a lot of city infrastructure that is inaccessible to some people with disabilities. However, with the rise of technology has come to the introduction of a new kind of claim – accessibility online. In 2017, in Florida, a retailer website was found to discriminate against a user who was blind, linking accessibility of a physical retail site with accessibility on the internet.
Speculation from legal experts suggests that many similar suits could be filed on the back of this decision, opening up the door to new disability advocacy projects based around technology. One example of a disability technology advocacy project already in existence is the American Association of People with Disabilities initiative We Will Ride, which supports the delivery of fully accessible autonomous vehicles, offering the opportunity for anyone to travel anywhere, easily.
Knowledge is power
Don’t underestimate the importance of social disability advocacy – spreading information and showing support for disability rights can have a huge impact on how they are perceived, both nationally and globally. The University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, and Society runs a Global Disability Rights Advocacy project, showcasing laws from around the world that protect the rights of those with disabilities, offering guidance and direction for those wishing to champion positive change.
Whether you have a disability yourself, or you want to support someone else who has a disability, it’s worth checking out what disability advocacy projects are available in your area. As knowledge and understanding of the rights of those with disabilities become more widespread, so too does the support available – and if you can’t find the support you’re looking for, maybe there’s an opening for you to make a change yourself.