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Laws That Protect the Disabled People, and the Types of Abuse
The disabled are people who need social assistance and protection due to limited physical or mental abilities. Disabled citizens require help in terms of environmental and social adaptation. Nowadays, the government allocates funds for the construction of rehabilitation centers, pays benefits, and assigns privileges to help people with disabilities. Nevertheless, the problem of the spiritual development of vulnerable people and moral support remains, since those elements cannot be fully ensured and protected by law. Therefore, persons with disabilities often face discrimination. The laws that protect the disabled should be reviewed and improved to inform people about legal responsibility, types of behavior that might offend invalids, and the possibility of punishment for such actions.
Laws to Protect Vulnerable Individuals
The laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities are required because the disabled can become victims of discrimination, abuse, and neglect. In the United States, the laws that support the most vulnerable part of the population exist. A situation in Willowbrook, a large public institution in New York, where 6000 disabled people lived instead of the permitted 4000 residents, became the core reason for increased attention to the needs of the disabled (The International Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities [ITFCCD], 2013). In the 1970s, it was discovered that they were living in unsanitary conditions, without the necessary material support and ability to communicate with other people. Each employee was responsible for 30-40 persons with disabilities, hence was not able to provide adequate assistance. After such a discovery, the government adopted a number of laws that radically changed an approach to people with special needs.
Thus, the modern legal framework is based on the following documents: the Rehabilitation Act signed in 1973, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (the DD Act) adopted in 1975, and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980 (ITFCCD, 2013). In the scope of the DD Act, the US Congress created the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system to check and control the state institutions of different levels in terms of the safety of persons with disabilities, as well as to provide legal advocacy for the protection of their rights (ITFCCD, 2013). After passing the aforementioned laws on the rights of the disabled, the United States ensured the equal treatment of US citizens with disabilities and improved the lives of people in special purpose institutions.
The basic law that protects the rights of people with limited abilities in the United States is called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It was passed in Congress by an overwhelming majority and signed by President Bush on July 26, 1990 (ITFCCD, 2013). Later, in 2008, the Congress, with the unanimous support of the US Senate, accepted the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act to meet the key objectives of the primary law (ITFCCD, 2013). Thus, the ADA provides people with disabilities with the same opportunities in terms of employment, government programs, access to public places, and transport as other citizens.
Consequently, it guarantees that employers may not resort to the discrimination of workers on the basis of disability. In addition, the disabled are granted free access to all state and public institutions. Moreover, public transport must be easy to use by people with disabilities.
In international practice, the most important document that ensures the protection of the rights of people with disabilities is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was developed in 2006 by the United Nation Organization (Disabled World, 2012). The Convention embodies the principles of human diversity and dignity. Its core idea is that people with disabilities should be able to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination. To date, 133 countries and the European Union signed the CRPD to cooperate in an attempt to eradicate ignorance against the vulnerable populations worldwide (Disabled World, 2012). The Convention is the first treaty that considers all aspects of discrimination against persons with disabilities and regulates their relationship with the outside world in such fields as education, employment, privacy, and self-determination. In the USA, the document was signed in 2009, but it has not yet entered into force (Disabled World, 2012).
Besides the agreements mentioned above, there are other documents that protect the rights of the disabled. For example, the Disabled World (2012) highlights the following documents: “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (CEDPWD)”. These laws and treaties guarantee the equality of people regardless of their health status and physical abilities. Besides, they grant the freedom of expression, respect for private life, the right to marry and found a family, the right to education and treatment, and other rights and freedoms to the disabled.
Types of Insults and Ways to Support Disabled People
Laws and conventions contribute to the rights of persons with disabilities protection, but they cannot eradicate the misbehavior of all members of the society. Therefore, disabled people may face insults during communication with others. According to the statistics, 70% of people with disabilities confessed that they became the objects of ridicule and humiliation; besides, 63% of people admitted that their incapacitated family members were ill-treated in the society (Baladerian, Coleman, & Stream, 2013). Unfortunately, only 37.3% of victims of abuse addressed the authorities, and only 51.7% of people whose family members were offended did the same (Baladerian et al., 2013).
Abuse against persons with disabilities can be divided into two categories: physical and psychological abuse. For example, verbal abuse is the most common form of offense. The disrespect of the healthy members of the society may lead to the isolation of a disabled person. Moreover, some people unlawfully impose limitations on their incapacitated relatives and deny them the opportunity to communicate with the outside world. Moreover, people with disabilities may become victims of physical violence. Unfortunately, the government cannot monitor every family. Thus, some citizens are forced to suffer because of their relatives’ cruelty and the neighbors’ indifference.
Further, the Disabled World (2013) highlights such kind of abuse as disenfranchisement, which entails the delay of medical care, problems with school admission, lack of technical conditions that facilitate the free movement of the disabled in urban areas, etc. In addition, housing discrimination is widespread in the USA as well. There is currently not enough affordable housing that is adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. Recent studies show that more than half of all people with disabilities in the United States face denial in terms of the acquisition of housing, in contrast to healthy people who want to receive similar apartments. Besides, invalids do not receive assistance in finding accommodation, and they have fewer opportunities to get the consent to extend the lease agreements or new proposals from renters (Disabled World, 2012). In some states, people with disabilities are forced to go to hospitals when they need medical assistance, instead of being attended by personal care providers. Such type of service may significantly improve the psychological and physical condition of disabled citizens because it makes them feel more independent and self-reliant. It inspires and makes the socialization of the disabled easier. Moreover, it is less financially burdening than the permanent residence in institutions (Disabled World, 2012). Thus, the fact that the disabled people are deprived the mentioned service can be considered as the restriction of their personal freedom. For the mutual assistance and support, invalids unite in groups and organizations, depending on their types of disability. Such unions help them to overcome difficulties and to simplify life.
The situation of persons with disabilities can be improved by the elimination of prejudices and false stereotypes in schools and the promotion of tolerance among teenagers and young adults. Social services for the disabled people should be widespread and monitored by community-based associations specially created for such purposes. Healthy community members should not remain indifferent, and they ought to help to identify and eradicate elements of discrimination. Besides, it would be useful to create committees that would help people with disabilities to find jobs and to provide them with various forms of assistance, including legal aid. Moral support, in its turn, could be provided by means of mixed creative teams, where the disabled could enjoy equal opportunities and meet communicative needs.
People with physical and mental disabilities are regularly subjected to abuse from the society. The USA legislation includes a number of laws that guarantee the protection of the rights and freedoms of the disabled persons in terms of education, health care, employment, family relations, and etc. In addition, people with special needs can count on the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, in everyday life, the disabled are still subjected to violence in verbal or physical forms. Thus, the eradication of discrimination should start at the school level, by providing relevant education and promoting awareness of humanism, and the community level, where community members should help people with disabilities and ensure that the letter are not discriminated.
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