Cerebral Palsy and Legislation

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It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when people with special needs had few rights, but the approval of legislation in all aspects of disability has re-crafted how people with disabilities are treated under the law, They are provided more opportunities to live a vital, productive life than ever before in human history.

Legislation, rules and guidelines that benefit individuals with Cerebral Palsy

At first glance, disability legislation seems like an alphabet soup of initials and acronyms that are tied to arcane concepts. But for people with disabilities, the laws represented by those capital letters provide essential rights and protections that, for the special needs community, were a long time in coming.

Fifty years ago, people with disabilities enjoyed few rights. Children who had physical or developmental impairments were not entitled to a free, equal education enjoyed by their peers because special education laws, where they existed were decidedly lax. People who used a wheelchair as their primary mode of mobility were at the whim of others when it came time to enter, or exit, public facilities.

During less enlightened times, having a disability meant it would be unlikely that a person whose physical capabilities differed from the norm would have a career. Today, the world is a different place, not only for people with disabilities, but also for their family members and friends.

The current state of disability legislation doesn’t cover every issue of importance a person with special needs may encounter. However, the legislation drafted over a half century slowly advanced a cause that is light years ahead of what it replaced.

Today, people with special needs are entitled by law to a meaningful education, assistance and access in public places, and can pursue vindication of his or her rights if he or she is discriminated against. These laws are immensely helpful for anyone who seeks to participate in education, work and society.

The following are a few pieces of legislation that helped to pave change:

Accessible air travel

Before traveling, it may be helpful to become acquainted with the laws and regulations that govern airline transportation systems, structures, services, and accommodations that prohibit discrimination of air travelers with disabilities. These include the following laws and regulations.

  • The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, or ABA, 42 U.S.C. 4151l-4157
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 502, 29 U.S.C. 792
  • The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, or ACAA
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or ADA

For more information, the U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, offers a guide titled “Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability,” visit Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability »

They also provide “Fly-Rights: A Consumer Guide to Air Travel” »

For more information, visit our site's section dedicated to Air Travel.

Accessible bus transit

Legislation that apply to accessible bus transit include:

  • Over-the-Road Bus Transportation Accessibility Act
  • The Transportation for the Elderly and People with Disabilities (Section 5310)
  • The New Freedom Formula Grant Program (Section 5317)
  • Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU

For more information, visit Bus Transit.

Accessibility – buildings and public rights-of-way

Notable legislation regarding accessible buildings and public rights-of-way include:

Assistive technology and communications

Legislation applicable to assistive technologies and communication include:

Civil rights

Legislation on civil rights include:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 1997
  • National Voter Registration Act of 1993
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – Section 501, 503, 504, and 508
  • Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984

Disabilities legislation

Key legislation on disability includes:

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980
  • Fair Housing Act of 1968
  • Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
  • Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973

To access the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities report on “The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000”.

For the History on the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, or DD Act.

For more information on The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, the Developmental Disabilities Act, visit “Rising Expectations: The Developmental Disabilities Act Revisited – A Report from the National Council on Disabilities“.

For the U.S. Department of Justice’s book titled, A Guide to Disability Rights Laws, July 2009.

For more information, visit Disability.

Education legislation

Key legislation governing education law includes:

  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, or ESEA, also known as “No Child Left Behind”
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA
  • The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987
  • The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, or GPRA
  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
  • Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

For more information on education, visit Special Education.

Employment legislation

Key legislation on employment includes:

  • The Rehabilitation Act – Section 501, Section 503, Section 504, and Section 508
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act – Guide for People with Disabilities Seeking Employment
  • The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008
  • The Olmstead Decision, ADA Title II
  • Workforce Investment Act of 1998, or WIA
  • Disability Employment Initiatives, DEI

For information on technology in the workplace, visit Information Technology and the Workplace: Implications for Persons with Disabilities

For information on employment law, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Employment Law Guide: Laws, Regulations, and Technical Assistance Services.”

For information on employment related topics, visit Employment »

Health insurance

For information on employment related topics, visit Health Insurance.

Housing legislation

Important legislation governing housing for those with disabilities, includes:

  • Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987
  • Fair Housing Act
  • Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988

For information on employment related topics, visit Housing.


Accessibility Guidelines for Playscapes.

For information on employment related topics, visit Inclusive Playscapes.

Disability Organizations

sisters, one pushing her sister's wheelchair through the park

Disability Organizations

People tend to think about disability in terms of limits placed on a person’s physical, mental, social or developmental ability to function. Once people move past myths and perceptions about disability, they learn that it’s more about a person’s ability to compensate for special needs than it is about not being able to complete tasks in a predictable manner. Disability advocacy is about furthering equal opportunity for inclusion, accessibility and participation for all.
Learn more

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