Modern Day Segregation: How Businesses Deny Or Impede the Disabled
The history of segregation of the majority of marginalized populations are well established facts.
The affected populations were denied entry into various establishments, including restaurants, shops, and even churches.
They also were routinely relegated to the qualities of lesser facilities and services.
Although the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and related statutes, regulations, and case law provided legal remedies against such prejudicial treatment, there has been a continuity of pervasively discriminatory treatment against individuals with disabilities.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the collection of other similarly categorized statutes, regulations, and case laws are about as effective as the Civil Rights Acts of 1865, 1866, 1870, 1871, 1875, and 1957.
In other words, current law is similar, but not identical in nature to the 1896 decision of Plessy v. Fergusson.
Businesses segregate individuals with disabilities in the following ways:
- Hiring and employment. 2/3 of adults with disabilities, 67%, including 76% of the blind, are unemployed.
- Businesses discriminate in the hiring processes against individuals with disabilities by making application processes inaccessible by requiring the filing of hand written applications, or by requiring the submission of online applications where screen reader, magnification, and other assistive technology users find that the web applications are incompatible with their assistive technologies.
- Businesses also routinely ask questions during interviews in ways that suggest that the interviewer feels that the candidate’s disability or combination of disabilities precludes or impedes the ability of the applicant to perform the essential functions of the job.
- Some businesses also require an applicant with a disability to present documentary evidence of the disability by having a company prescribed form filled out by a qualified medical professional.
- 2. Retention. Businesses discriminate against employees with disabilities by using the Fair Labor Standards Act, (FLSA), to pay such employees a subminimum wage.
- Employers also deny employees with disabilities advancement opportunities, including the denial of positions, raises, and correlated responsibilities.
- 3. Termination. Every business has its own set of termination procedures, but many employees with disabilities are terminated without having the opportunity to exhaust available options for maintaining employment.
Businesses deny and impede customers with disabilities in the following ways:
- Accessibility. Businesses fail to provide accessible facilities for wheelchair users, interpreter support for deaf and hard of hearing customers, braille signs, product labels, and menus for blind and other people with disabilities who have print reading difficulties, accessible applications that are compatible with assistive technologies, and product instructions in a format tailored to the needs of customers with disabilities.
- Currentness. Businesses that do have accessible options fail to keep them current. For example, restaurants with braille menus frequently update their printed menus, but fail to update their braille menus.
Despite the high barriers people with disabilities face, entrepreneurs have a duty, responsibility, and obligation to cultivate and evangelize a culture of maximum company inclusion.
The following are steps companies can undertake to cultivate and evangelize maximum company inclusion.
- Customer service training. By training employees on methods of serving customers with disabilities, customer service representatives will be confident and comfortable dealing with fulfilling the needs of all customers, including customers with disabilities.
- Accessibility. The Internal Revenue Service offers a $15,000 tax deduction for improving the accessibility of your business. On a personal note, if the government genuinely cared about accessibility, the government would fund the entirety of the costs. By making your facilities wheelchair friendly, training employees to be interpreters, providing braille signs, product labels, instructions, and menus, and ensuring that your technological products and services are compatible with assistive technologies, you ensure that that the maximum number of customers within your target and niche markets can benefit from your offerings.
- Inclusion evangelism. By training your employees appropriately, improving accessibility, seeking feedback from customers with disabilities, and by rewarding employees and customers for their efforts, employees and customers will be enthusiastic about sharing your brand and its legacy on the world. All of this will increase your visibility and sales online and offline.
20% of people in the United States are people with disabilities who face segregation, relegation, marginalization, and poverty.
This accounts for an estimated 58.6 million people with disabilities.
Discrimination against people with disabilities can become past history.
By implementing the suggestions in this article and the feedback you receive, you will change the public perception of people with disabilities, allowing all to contribute meaningfully to society.