Signed into law in 1990, July 26 marked the 32nd Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.
The CDC reports 26 percent, or 61 million adults in the United States have some type of disability.
For decades, JEVS Human Services has provided programs to meet the needs of people with disabilities. For instance, JEVS hireAbility provides expert employment services and JEVS Assistive Technology Services provides the tools to support individuals in achieving their employment goals.
Madeline Laquer, Assistive Technology Practitioner, reflects on the ADA and the work of the JEVS:
“Historically, individuals with disabilities have faced insurmountable adversity in their day-to-day lives. Tasks like entering a building, making a phone call, shopping for groceries, and procuring employment, just to name a few, are all tasks that able-bodied individuals can do with ease. But when an individual with a disability goes to complete one of these tasks, they typically encounter a barrier. Barriers can look like buildings that are not physically accessible; cars parked in the accessible spot or ramp area; doors that are too heavy; cluttered pathways; etc. It’s impossible to truly understand the life of someone with a disability unless you have experienced it for yourself.
As we recognize the 32nd anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important to remember there is still work that needs to be done. We have come so far in improving access for the disability community but we can do more.
What we do not talk about enough is the stigma the disability community faces, especially surrounding employment.
JEVS Assistive Technology Services has supported 85 individuals with disabilities and older adults to increase their independence at home and at work. Assistive Technology is an ever evolving field. Our focus is on finding solutions to barriers individuals may face.
We implement a person-centered approach to ensure these solutions will meet the needs and goals of the individual. Assistive Technology encompasses no, low, and high-tech devices that support all aspects of life.
After an evaluation is conducted at the individual’s home or worksite, we identify devices or tools that can support them to complete tasks that may otherwise be difficult or impossible because of their disability.”
For individuals like Anthony, participation in the Assistive Technology program helps to support his work as an attorney and his ongoing professional development. Anthony shares his experience and the impact of assistive technology and support from JEVS.
Anthony: “I’ll start with a little bit of background. My disability is cerebral palsy, meaning that it’s basically quadriplegia, and all four limbs are affected. And I also have, along with that, a visual perception problem that when I read across the line, my eyes skip, and so I have to use audio books and Dragon speech recognition.
JEVS: How did you learn about the JEVS Assistive Technology Program?
Anthony: I heard about JEVS Assistive Technology program through my job coach at Jewish Family and Children Services.
JEVS: How is Assistive Technology helping you professionally?
Anthony: I was formerly an attorney in Pennsylvania for 16 years, and I’m presently studying for the New Jersey bar, trying to get ready, and now what I’ve been able to do with the iPad that I received from JEVS Assistive Technology, it helps to read all my Kindle books without my Kindle, which is a good thing because I use this set of books called nutshells, they’re like law schools feeds.
And then at that point I’m able to read those and take notes on them, you know. And also I’m able to do lectures from Amazon that are that are based on the six subjects of the multi- state.
Something else…I had to read a reciprocity agreement from the University of Illinois College of Law where I went to school, and I wouldn’t be able to do that without the iPad because you have to know what the other schools that are offering you reciprocity.
For example, I requested reciprocity from Temple, Villanova, and Rutgers and so I had I have to know all of their policies as well as my own schools and and from that and so that’s what I’ve been able to do.
How has it been working with JEVS and your ATP, Madeline?
Anthony: Oh, Madeline, does a marvelous job. She showed me all these things and she was even helping me trying to get my recordings to transcribe. So I’m grateful for everything that was done and I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. It definitely made me more independent than I would be, and that was the point of program.