The Americans with Disabilities Act has dramatically improved millions of lives since its inception in 1990. One of the most important aspects of this legislation has been protecting young adults’ access to college education without being discriminated against based on their disability. In recent years, this fundamental right has fallen by the wayside as universities across the country engage in a recurring pattern of discrimination. Prospective students who face this threat are rightfully fearful as they watch the American dream slip through their fingers.
The ADA covers both private and publicly funded universities. From your local community college to the elite Ivy League, every college institution in the country is required to comply with ADA guidelines. The one exception is private religious institutions. However, even these schools must adhere to ADA guidelines if any of their students accept federal aid (which is almost certainly the case). Despite the fact that the ADA applies to practically every public and private school, this has not stopped the torrent of discrimination taking place on their campuses. Students with needs that can be easily accommodated are routinely told they can’t participate in school programs and activities because their disability may “drag the class down.”
As of right now, colleges like Baylor, Rice, Texas Tech, University of Texas, Texas A&M, and the University of Houston all have pending investigations in the Office for Civil Rights regarding disability discrimination. The list goes on and on, but one thing is clear. Where every major university in the state is being investigated for discriminating against the disabled, something horribly wrong is happening.
This country used to pride itself in equal opportunity for all. Where we once judged prospective students by the content of their character, we now resent them for the nature of their disability. Our country relies on skilled labor and our families prefer happy children. The real loser in this struggle for opportunity is all of us.