Today we are going to be diving into the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 more. It is interesting that after the First World War, the soldiers were coming back home injured. Back in 1917 and 1918 Congress had to create two acts to help the men out. To me, this sounded like our country was really helping the people who had a disability.

The first act that Congress passed was the Vocation Education Act of 1917, and the Soldiers Rehabilitation Act of 1918. These acts were to help the men out to get back in the community and to get a job. As the number of people who had a disability grew, the Rehabilitation office went to Congress in 1954 to allow more people to be covered under these acts, but it didn’t happen. The Civil rights grew stronger in the 1960’s.

President Nixon Vetoed the Rehabilitation Act Twice

The act was vetoed twice because he cited that the legislation would divert the program from its traditional objectives of vocational rehabilitation and medical treatment, and create many committees to oversee the act. They had to remove the independent living from the act. As a result much fighting, President Nixon signed it into law on September 26, 1973.

The act has five sections. The sections were 501, 503, 504, 505, and 508.

Section 501

In this section, it prohibits federal agents from discriminating against qualified individuals with a disability. Hence, it encourages businesses to hire qualified individuals and obliges these businesses to offer employment advancement to the individuals who’s work meets the necessary requirements.

Section 503

This is similar to the Section 501. It also has to deal with the hiring, placement, and advancement of people with disabilities. It includes federal contractors and subcontractors. In 2013, they published a ‘Final Rule‘ that makes changes to this section of the Rehab Act.  The new rule sets a ‘utilization goal’ which basically means that all workforce. Job categories should aim to have at least 7% of their employee population be individuals with a disability,  if in fact they are all qualified for their respective positions.  This also includes contractors and subcontractors.

Section 504

Although this section was not in part of the act at the start, it was the most important. It was to make sure that there were reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, program accessibility, effective communication with people who have hearing and vision disabilities, and accessible new construction and alterations. Each federal agency has its own section of this section. Section 504 of the Department of Health and Human Services makes sure that doctor offices and clinics are accessible. The United States Department of Education makes sure that students with disabilities receive the kind of education services to be successful in school.

This section caused a lot of fuss around the United States because the law makers were not making any head way in trying to pass this section of the act. Therefore, people with disabilities were doing sit ins around the country for days. The new State Department secretary, Joseph Caliano signed the section to be implemented into law, after several weeks of having sit ins around the country to  get the act .approved. There is a good video tells you more about what happened.

Section 505

This section goes with Section 501. It seems to deal with governing remedies and the attorney’s fees.

Section 508

This section made sure that federal electronic and information technology to be accessible for people with disabilities. An accessible information technology is one that can be operated in many ways. It does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. The Rehabilitation Act did helped the people with disabilities. Yet, there are a lot to accomplish.

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