Conceptual Foundations of Disability

Conceptually, disability law follows two distinct traditions— equal treatment (based on civil rights law) and special treatment (based on social welfare law). The equal treatment perspective means that persons with disabilities should be treated as if their disabilities do not matter. Accordingly, the law mandates businesses, public accommodations, public services, transportation, and communications authorities not to discriminate. This concept of equal treatment is powerfully articulated in the law. At the same time disability law also requires special treatment. The law requires the aforementioned entities to adopt a concept of affirmative action that focuses on the person's disabilities, as well as on societal barriers to equal treatment (Feldblum, 1993). The ADA requires reasonable accommodations or modifications designed to enable or empower the person with disabilities to take his or her rightful place in society. The law, therefore, insists on special treatment when that is necessary to allow a person to perform a job, enter a public building, or receive public service. As the Supreme Court observed over two decades ago, "Sometimes the greatest discrimination can lie in treating things that are different as though they were exactly alike" (Jenness, et al. v. Fortson, p. 442).

Disability law, however, does not take either the equal treatment or the special treatment principle to its logical extension. With respect to equal treatment, the Supreme Court has dismantled the statute to such an extent that the ADA does not provide an effective remedy for many individuals with a disability. With respect to special treatment, the ADA does not allocate tax dollars to enable the person to participate equally in society, beyond use of government funds for reasonable accommodations in such areas as public transportation. Nor does it require covered entities to spend unlimited amounts to provide equal access and opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

The Ultimate Guide To Overcoming Fear And Getting Breakthroughs. Fear is without doubt among the strongest and most influential emotional responses we have, and it may act as both a protective and destructive force depending upon the situation.

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