Key Legislative Initiatives

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1954 stated that disabled persons were not considered rehabilitated until they were employed to their own satisfaction, not just their employers.  That policy was revolutionary, empowering people with disabilities to be partners in the decision making that affected their lives.  This legislation also poured funds into research and direct services.

The U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment and in their employment practices of Federal Contractors.

The Rehabilitation Comprehensive Services and Developmental Disabilities Act of 1978 was comprised of a series of amendments to the Disabilities Act of 1973.  The main function of the legislation was to amend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by extending the reach and scope of its programs for employment training for rehabilitation of disabled persons.  Two new government entities were created by this legislation; The National Institute of Handicapped Research and the Interagency Committee on Handicapped Research.   The Act also added a provision requiring each state to submit a plan for vocational services for the next three years in order to receive federal money.

The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 ensured that Federal anti-discrimination statures would apply to an entire institution if it accepted any Federal aid (even for a small program within the institution).  Before this, a university for example, could receive government funds for its science department, make its science facilities accessible but keep its library, cafeteria, and dormitory inaccessible.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 provided individuals with identified disabilities similar protections from discrimination as those granted by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This Act barred discrimination in employment, public services and transportation, public accommodations, telecommunications and miscellaneous provisions.  It was a great step in normalizing the lives of the disables.  It also prohibited disability based discrimination in any place of public accommodation with regards to full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities or accommodations.  Public accommodations included most places of education.