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Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25

July 23, 2015

July 26 marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA, a federal civil rights law, gives people living with disabilities protection from discrimination and barriers in employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, and telecommunications.

For millions of people with disabilities, the ability to reside in the community and lead full, independent, and productive lives depends on the services and supports provided by their personal and home care aides.

Yet home care workers (pdf) are subject to low pay, unstable hours, and often nonexistent benefits. They are not even protected by federal minimum wage and overtime provisions.

In “We Can’t Wait!: Americans Speak Out for Fair Pay for Home Care Workers” (pdf), a 2013 PHI publication, people with disabilities talk about how indispensable their home care workers are to maintaining their quality of life.

Battista Reflects on ADA Anniversary

In an interview with PHI, Christina Battista explains what the ADA means to her.

“I wouldn’t be able to work, live in my own apartment, [or] go out with friends” without home care workers, Sascha Bittner of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Association said.

“These workers are critical to the independent living movement, which has fought for the rights of people with disabilities to live as full citizens in our communities — not warehoused in nursing homes or other institutions,” she continued.

Jessica Lehman, executive director of San Francisco Senior and Disability Action, writes, “It is important for me as a person with a disability to raise the value of this work — to treat home care workers as the valued employees they are.”

Home care workers “should be paid a living wage and the overtime rate for hours they work,” said Christina Battista, president of the National Participant Network. “It’s not only fair, but it’s the right thing to do.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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