A look at the ADA 33 years later

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:47 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) – It’s been 33 years since the all-encompassing Americans with Disabilities Act passed to remove discrimination toward people with disability.

Your News Leader explored some of its successes as well as areas that need progress.

Kyle Erickson, research associate with North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities, said he’d like to start a project related to the state’s sub-minimum wage law.

“I’m putting together a paper exploring the pros and cons of this practice and just whether or not it adds to success for people with disabilities,” said Erickson.

Erickson said he knows people who work for as much as $3 an hour, a wage that can be legalized only by the labor commissioner after they’ve investigated the employer’s finances and the person’s output, among other factors.

Emily Shuman, the director of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center said the legislation has improved the ability for many to navigate in and out of buildings. She said their centers are doing research on interpersonal matters.

“You can have an accessible facility that’s perfect, but if the people inside the facility aren’t aware of how to treat and work with those with disabilities, it really doesn’t have as great of an impact,” said Shuman.

Kenzie Larson, peer support specialist with Independence, Inc. said she manages her PTSD with a variety of grounding techniques throughout the day, which her employer supports by allowing her to take a minute when she needs it.

“In my experience, given the opportunity to shine, so many people will rise to the occasion and be able to display their strengths, we just have to be given the chance to be accepted for exactly who we are,” said Larson.

Erickson said he appreciates being able to transport himself on sidewalks and even places like restaurants that have added accommodations and is glad some have stayed post-pandemic.

“COVID helped a lot with that, because a lot of businesses put in electric openers, so they wouldn’t have to sterilize their door handles,” said Erickson.

Shuman said reasonable accommodations for qualified employees are a right.

“Whether that’s working remotely from home or being able to use headphones or have calming music in their workspace,” said Shuman.

She said it looks different for each person.

The Department of Labor released a finding that nearly half of workplace accommodations don’t cost money. The report found that the average expense is $300.

Related content:

Sub-minimum wage license

Department of Labor report

For questions about ADA: 1-800-949-4232 (Rocky Mountain ADA center)