Americans With Disabilities Act and Social Work
by: Anita L. Rosen, Ph.D, MSW and Elise Brady, Intern
The following abstracts were taken from the Social Work Abstracts Database of
the National Association of Social Workers, 1996.
Cole, B. S., Christ, C. C., & Light, T.R. (1995, Spring/Summer). Social
work education and students with disabilities: implications of section 504 and
the ADA. Journal of Social Work Education, 31(2), 261-268.
This study addresses major educational issues related to the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Because students
with disabilities are entering higher education in ever larger numbers, and with
greater expectations for accommodation than those of a generation ago, social
work educators and administrators should be aware of the implications of these
two statutes and relevant case law for admissions, classroom accommodations, and
Gordon, E. B. (1994). Promoting the relevance of policy to practice: using
the ADA to teach social policy. Journal of Teaching in Social Work,
This study describes an approach to teaching social policy using the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This approach helps students develop
and exercise practice policy skills, and encourages them to see policy
intervention as integral to social work practice. Proposed resources include the
legislation itself, speakers and media sources, and a student assignment. The
study suggests that countering social work's current trend away from policy
practice requires demonstrating the natural link between policy and practice and
helping students see policy practice skills as within their inherent abilities
Kopels. S. (1995, Fall). The Americans with Disabilities Act: a tool to
combat poverty. Journal of Social Work Education, 31(3), 337-346.
Statistics consistently demonstrate that people with disabilities are the
poorest, least educated, and largest minority population in America. This study
examines the employment provisions of Title I of the recently enacted Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its use in combating poverty for individuals
with disabilities. The ADA in its entirety, and Title I in particular, is useful
both as an advocacy and pedagogical tool to understand and alleviate poverty,
oppression, and discrimination. Suggestions for infusing this content into the
professional foundation curriculum are included.
McEntee, M. K. (1995, March). Deaf and hard-of-hearing clients: some legal
implications. Social Work, 40(2), 183-187.
At least one of every 16 Americans has some degree of hearing loss and may
use a variety of communication modes, including spoken English and American Sign
Language. With the passage of various federal laws, most notably the Americans
with Disabilities Act, social services agencies will need to become more aware
of the needs of their deaf and hard-of-hearing clients. This article reviews
federal legislation and statutes and their impact on service and legal programs.
Legislative mandates for the use of assistive devices and interpreters in
various settings are discussed. As service providers and advocates, social
workers need to ensure that their own services adequately meet legal and ethical
obligations and that the profession advocates for other agencies to do the
Merrick, L. (1994). The disability triage: denial, marginalization, and
legislation. Journal of Religion in Disability and Rehabilitation, 1(1),
A significant number of people either enter the world with an impairment or
acquire one. Any system which ignores this universal probability requires a
refined denial. Instances where denial is overcome are often soon replaced by
efforts to marginalize the power or voice of persons with disabilities.
Legislation emerges to address these systemic motivations (the Americans with
Disabilities Act). These three elements represent a cycle of triage whereby
protection of the rights of persons with disabilities require clear vision and
steadfast advocacy, for without such commitment, national agenda is always one
step away from benign neglect.
Moxley, D. (1992, May). Disability policy and social work practice. Health
and Social Work, 17(2), 99-103.
Three articles in this issue discuss disability policy in the United States
and its implications for social work practice. People with disabilities face
monumental barriers in obtaining employment, education, housing, and income.
Given this reality, they form a large minority group that experiences perhaps
the highest level of discrimination in society (DeJong & Batavia, 1990).
Despite the enactment of Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 (West, 1991),
people with disabilities will continue to feel the bite of discrimination as a
result of the absence of flexible income support programs, disincentives to
enter gainful employment, weak economic incentives to employ people with
disabilities, inadequate housing alternatives, and few supports to encourage
postsecondary educational advancement and training (DeJong & Batavia, 1990).
Within this context it appears that case management may not be the intervention
of choice, especially when resources available to a target population--such as
those experiencing severe and persistent psychiatric disabilities--are limited.
Yet given the need for policy and interpersonal advocacy, the time may be right
for many social workers to relax their clinical orientations and to assume the
roles of dedicated advocates of client-defined needs, desires, and
Orlin, M. (1995, March). The Americans with Disabilities Act: implications
for social services. Social Work, 40(2), 233-239.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination on
the basis of disability in employment, state and local government services,
public accommodations, and telecommunications. The Act prohibits denying
individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in a program or
service that is not equal to or that is different or separate from that given
others. This article provides examples of possible barriers to full
participation that might exist in social services and gives illustrations of
reasonable modifications to increase access. Employers, private and government,
profit and nonprofit, must make reasonable physical accommodations for disabled
employees, unless such accommodation would cause undue hardship. This article
gives examples of reasonable accommodations and undue hardship and discusses the
ADA as a resource to clients with mental and physical disabilities and as a
framework of protection for agencies serving them.
Quinn, P. Social work education and disability: benefiting from the impact of
the ADA. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 12(1/2), 55-71.
Social work has a long history in the areas of rehabilitation and work with
peoples with disabilities, at least as far as medical social work is concerned.
During the 1960s, funding and opportunities in the area of disability and
rehabilitation provided opportunities for increased involvement of social
workers. In the last two decades, however, social work has virtually
relinquished its place to rehabilitation professionals, counselors, and the
medical profession. Education and research have not focused on these areas. A
1992 survey of graduate schools of social work revealed that, even with the
impetus of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, few schools have content
on disability and rehabilitation. As a step toward upgrading curriculum content,
some sources of information and some resources for curriculum enhancement are
Woody, R. H. (1993, Spring). Americans with Disabilities Act: implications
for family therapy. American Journal of Family Therapy, 21(1), 71-78.
This article provides a review of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(Public Law 101-596) and discusses its implications for family therapy.
Consideration is given to the family therapist's proper form of advocacy of
rights and therapeutic usage of the Act for empowering the individual with a
disability and his or her family.