Webcast archive: The ADA’s 25th anniversary: Part III – The Aftermath

This week, we discuss the aftermath of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss the ADA’s (Americans with Disabilities Act) 25th anniversary:

  • Part III – The Aftermath

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.


  • The ADA has produced incremental change
    • Buildings open to the public
    • Transportation
    • Infrastructure
  • Many court rulings limited definition of disability and applied strict interpretation
  • In 2008, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act – on the recommendation of the National Council on Disabilities to clarify the definition of disability.
  • Have things really gotten better for people with disabilities? A report by the NCD in 2007 gives us some ideas.
  • Title I – employment
    • Hiring –
      • 35% of PWDs are employed, no change from before the ADA.
      • It’s possible the ADA has helped people interested in working.
      • The court decisions limiting the definition of disability created substantial hurdles to employment.
      • People who want to work are still held back by a lack of personal assistance services and health insurance.
    • Reasonable Accommodations –
      • Once hired, disabled people are somewhat more likely to receive accommodations than before the ADA.
      • Employees who become disabled are also more likely to be accommodated than before the law.
    • Title II – State and local government
      • One study showed 65% of local governments had ADA coordinators.
      • Other studies show that around 80% of State and Local governments have sought help to comply.
      • Problem areas –
        • Access to the judicial system
        • Access to medical equipment
        • Sign language interpreters
      • Title III – Public Accommodations
        • Perception of improvement through incremental change.
        • Industry associations don’t collect data either about increased patronage by disabled people or access modifications made by owners.
        • Regular reports of attitude problems
      • Independent Living
        • In 1999, the Supreme Court decided in the case of Olmstead v. LC that people with mental disabilities have the right to live in the community.
      • “Telecommunications” –
        • Evolving technology has made a big difference.
        • In 2006, the National Federation of the Blind won a lawsuit against Target stores because their website was not accessible to blind users. The court said that Target’s website was it’s “entrance” on the internet and so was covered by title III of the ADA.
        • In 2012, the National Association of the Deaf brought a complaint against Netflix demanding closed captions on films provided by the service. A judge ruled that Netflix was also covered by the ADA and ruled in NAD’s favour.
        • 508 of the Rehab act.
        • Interpreters via Skype, not always effective communication.
      • The ADA and Assisted Suicide
        • Activists believe allowing assisted suicide violates the ADA because it:
          • Singles out disabled people from other suicidal people for differential treatment.
          • Doesn’t provide equal access to suicide prevention services
        • Two decisions in 1997 upheld state prohibitions against assisted suicide but didn’t mention ADA.
        • State laws allowing assisted suicide have never been challenged because no one has ever stepped forward.
      • Is a CDA possible?
        • Federal law versus provincial law
        • Barrier Free Canada: http://barrierfreecanada.org/home/
        • What would be the use of such a law if assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal?