Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Awareness Day
Each year on July 26, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Awareness Day is celebrated in the United States. Signed into law in 1990 by then-President George H.W. Bush, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination and promotes equal opportunities for those with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is divided into five separate sections, as described below:
5 Sections of Americans with Disabilities Act
Title I – Employment
The first title aims to eliminate discrimination as it relates to employment. Employers must make reasonable accommodations for those with a disability, from the initial application and hiring process, throughout the entirety of the individual’s career. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcing Title I.
Title II – State and Local Government
This section of the ADA prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities in all local and state governments, as well as any of their agencies and departments. Title II assures equal access to all areas of public transportation, including but not limited to buses and commuter rail. The United States Department of Justice oversees the regulation and enforcement of Title II.
Title III – Public Accommodations
The third title relates to providing equal access to those with disabilities in public places such as restaurants, hotels, medical offices, and stadiums. New construction of such facilities must adhere to the ADA guidelines created in the 1990 Act while existing buildings must take steps to adjust to meet the requirements. Again, the United States Department of Justice oversees Title III enforcement.
Title IV – Telecommunications
This section of the ADA requires internet and telephone companies to provide accessible networks for those with speech and hearing disabilities and closed captioning on public service announcements. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees Title IV regulation.
Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions
The fifth title covers discrimination across several areas, including law, medical insurance, worker’s compensation, and civil rights. Many agencies work together to oversee the enforcement of the various facets of Title V.
A Commitment to The Americans with Disabilities Act
Clincierge was born of the desire to help make clinical trials accessible for everyone, no matter their level of disability. This sense of duty applies within our company as well. Clincierge is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to a deep understanding of ADA regulations. Our corporate culture firmly stands behind this statement:
“We consider applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, gender, national origin, age, marital status, disability, citizen status, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by law. Clincierge will make a reasonable accommodation to known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.”
Internal Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
As part of this commitment, an internal Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee was formed, comprised of employees and chaired by Co-founder and CEO Scott Gray. The Committee is charged with fostering a healthy sense of inclusion and equity amongst our diverse employees through corporate events and educational opportunities. These events have included sessions with external DEI professionals, celebrations of holidays and cultures, and informal Coffee Talks where employees are welcome to discuss diverse topics within a safe community space.
ADA Awareness Day 2022 Employee Event
For ADA Awareness Day this year, Clincierge invited disability advocate and rare disease warrior Vanessa Pesec to speak with us. Vanessa was diagnosed in adulthood with the severe inflammatory disorder neuromyelitis optica, also known as NMO or Devic’s disease. The disease affected the myelin cells in Vanessa’s spinal cord, leading to paralysis below the waist and the need for a wheelchair.
Vanessa has evolved into a passionate disability advocate during her 30-year journey with Devic’s disease. She chairs the Cuyahoga County Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities, working to increase access to Ohio residents living with a disability. Vanessa led the development of Cuyahoga County Universal Design Standards, an organization charged with designing products and public spaces to be used by people with disabilities and all groups of any age range, stage of life, and physical and mental abilities.
In advance of the Coffee Talk event, we asked Vanessa a few questions centered around Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Awareness Day.
An Interview with Vanessa Pesec
What is your definition of the word “disability”?
“I see this word in a very broad sense; as a condition that makes it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks. It is not saying these tasks can not be accomplished, but they need to be handled in a different way. I have seen the word disability defined as ” a disadvantage or handicap, especially one imposed or recognized by the law.” But I see it as looking at the issue, whether a cognitive, intellectual, sensory, or physical one (or perhaps a combination of several), and focusing on how someone can be able to accomplish these everyday tasks.”
What does the ADA mean to you?
“The ADA in itself is a law promoting equal access. Those with a disability want to participate the same way as everyone else. The ADA Act itself prohibits discrimination and, by doing so, allows those of us with a disability to participate.”
How have the guidelines personally impacted you?
“Prior to 1990, things were significantly difficult from a mobility perspective. Buildings, restaurants, and even sidewalks did not have to be accessible for those with a disability. The physical improvements brought about by the ADA have allowed more people with disabilities, including me, to get out and about. The law also helps from a social aspect as it has become much more “normal” to see those with disabilities engage in everyday activities as access improves.”
Where do you see room for improvement with the ADA/disabled community?
“Public areas and recreational spaces are improving, but there is still room for growth. Certain restrooms are still not compliant, as the doors swing in and do not allow a wheelchair to fit. Within the building industry, I strive to educate developers on the needs of the disabled community. I also see this in the employment process. Appropriate accommodations are often made for employees with a disability after they get hired, but not throughout the application and hiring process. Accommodations should be made to assist with the application process if needed by the individual. I feel this process could be much more proactive instead of reactive.”
Do you view disability as a medical or social experience? Or both?
“This is a really interesting question. I believe disabilities start first as a medical condition, at the point of diagnosis. As someone with a disability learns to navigate the world, disability then becomes a social experience. Getting even deeper, you have the issue of a visible disability versus an invisible one and how they are both perceived by those around the individual.”
As a member of the Cuyahoga County Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities, what are some common examples of inequity in the disability community you see?
“I’ve seen it in employment opportunities, as applicants with vision or cognitive disabilities cannot apply for jobs online. Once they are hired, they receive the benefits awarded to them through the ADA, but this assistance needs to be much earlier. As stated above, I also see issues between those with visible disabilities as opposed to those with invisible disabilities.”
What one main point would you like our employees and readers to take away from our discussion?
“I want people to understand there is a lot of individuality within disabilities. Be wary of making a quick assumption, as you can fall short of the actual needs of the person with the disability. It is important to discuss what an individual needs and consider what we can provide for them. This will be different between individuals and situations. It is important to ask them what they need in detail and try to help.”
Looking Forward – Assisting Those Around Us with Disabilities
Clincierge is committed to a deeper understanding of how better to assist our employees and clinical trial patients with disabilities. Through ongoing learning opportunities like our Coffee Talk with Vanessa Pesec for ADA Awareness Day, we can uncover the many nuances of disability and how to best offer support. By working together towards improved services, changes begin to happen, benefitting all stakeholders.