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30 Years of ADA Disability Compliance:  Increasing Requests Prompt Teams to Regroup

By Rachel Shaw, MBA

President and Principal Consultant

Shaw HR Consulting

@Work Magazine

There is no question that America is a better place when people with disabilities prominently and proudly work and participate in our businesses, schools, and communities. Thirty years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) promised equal access for Americans of all abilities. Today we are at a critical time regarding issues of disability accommodation.

ADA compliance is based on the belief that people with disabilities have equal rights just like people of any ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation. In the 1990s, ADA considerations were largely focused on getting access and creating job opportunities for people with physical disabilities. At the time, people with significant disabilities often couldn’t get into buildings for work let alone receive necessary accommodations. The ADA changed this fundamental need.

Since then, we hear that employers are fielding an increasing number of accommodation requests, which isn’t surprising when you consider the Social Security Administration estimate that one in four Americans will become disabled before reaching age 67.

So how do employers ensure the pure and laudable intent of the ADA is realized?

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