Civil Rights for the Disabled: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

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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 e...

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