Cerebral Palsy and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a huge step forward for the special needs community. It provides protection and creates equality for citizens with special needs, including those with Cerebral Palsy. It is crucial to understand the ADA to ensure your child with CP is getting the treatment they deserve as provided, and required, by law.

First, what exactly is the Americans with Disabilities Act? The ADA “prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.” The Americans with Disabilities Act is expansive and covers many different situations to try to eliminate discrimination that people with special needs might face. It is important to protect these citizens and make sure that they get every opportunity afforded to others due to the fact a person’s special needs should not define them or limit their ability to experience great things in life.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was first introduced to Congress in 1988 and a second draft was introduced a year later. There were a lot of testimonies given in front of Congress about the discriminations people faced in everyday life. One young woman with Cerebral Palsy shared an experience of not being allowed to attend a movie and how the movie theater didn’t care that they were discriminating. “This story became a symbol for the ADA…” because Congress wanted to show that America does care about those being discriminated against.

Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990 by Congress, it still required additional work. The courts have heard more than twenty cases by 2008 that used the Americans with Disabilities Act in arguments. Through these cases, Congress realized that there were too many interpretations of the definition of disability within the act. Therefore, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) was issued and became effective in 2009.

The ADAAA made critical changes to the act. It protects more citizens by making it easier for people to be identified under the definition. This initiative also changes the focus from whether someone has a disability to whether discrimination has occurred, meaning people with special needs are less on the defense and more in position to illustrate barriers faced. Congress has even overturned a couple cases where they thought the Supreme Court interpreted the measure too narrowly.

According to Title 42, Section 12101, one of the purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act is “to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” Under this function, the ADA helps protect citizens with special needs, including children with Cerebral Palsy. In turn, the Federal Government enforces the standards that address discrimination in the act, helping prevent states from being unequal or unfair in the services offered.

The Americans with Disabilities Act will not only protect your child with Cerebral Palsy, but aims to protect everyone with special needs. It is our hope that in understanding the history and purposes of the ADA, you not only better understand the act as a whole but also see that it is not intended solely as a workplace or ‘adult’ law but, instead, is intended to help ANY American with special needs. This can include, as we’ve noted, avoiding discrimination even at the level of selecting a daycare. Overall, we want to eliminate discrimination while protecting those that may face it and see the Americans with Disabilities Act as an important cog in future change.

If you have any questions regarding Cerebral Palsy or the Americans with Disabilities Act, don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 692-4453(800) 692-4453 FREE or fill out our contact form on Facebook or our website.