Civil Rights For The Disabled: The Rehabilitation Act Of 1973

2746 words - 11 pages

I. Identification and Overview of the Policy

After years of discrimination, it looked as though people with disabilities would finally fine justice. In 1968 a bill was proposed that would enable people with disabilities to seek protection from the government. One would think that this bill would be welcomed into our society, but the events that followed proved quite the contrary. It took five years, three changes of administration and two presidential vetoes to pass the Rehabilitation Act. President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law on September 26, 1973. This act was designed to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Proceeding the signing of the bill a federal campaign was launched to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. Funding was authorized through this act for states to provide rehabilitation services like evaluation, counseling, training, placement, and rehabilitation technology services to qualified persons.

The Rehabilitation Act is far from simple, there are five titles under this act and each title contains different sections. Sections 501, 503, and 504 are some of the extremely important sections under Title V. Affirmative action is required and discrimination is prohibited within employment by Federal agencies of the Executive branch of government in 501. Federal government contractors and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000 are required to use affirmative action and are also prohibited from discriminating against employees. This section would include employers with such contracts as colleges and universities, training programs, and private defense and research companies. Section 504 requires that qualified individuals with disabilities shall not be excluded from, denied access to or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the U.S. Postal Service (Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University, 1997).

ll. Historical Analysis

The National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act, also called the Smith Fess Act, was developed in 1920. People with physical disabilities were targeted under this act and it was a foundation for the vocational rehabilitation makeup that has lasted through today. During 1943 the vocational rehabilitation act extended its services to those with mental retardation and mental illness. This act was made to assist vocationally disabled civilians and disabled veterans by providing funds through a federal-state matching formula (DiNitto, 2003). Federal and state governments shared the cost of the vocational rehabilitation program on a fifty-fifty basis (DiNitto, 2003). The program was appealing from conservative and economic viewpoints because rehabilitation is generally less costly than long-term care and income maintenance payments (DiNitto, 2003). According to the Federal Government's Rehabilitation Services...

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