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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

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ADA - Why we need it

Willie Davis Willie's Story I began my first search for employment before the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I had received my Bachelors degree in Social Work, an area where there should have been jobs available. I had a minor in Indian Studies and am an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, making me even more attractive as an employee to social service agencies serving Native Americans - or so one would think. After applying for 40 or 50 open positions, and still not receiving a job in Grand Forks, I left the city where I had lived for the past six years and moved back to my reservation. I was able to find employment as a Student Services Counselor at Turtle Mountain Community College. Fifteen years, and several positions later, I am still affiliated with the college, currently as part of the tribal vocational rehabilitation program. Since its passage, there have been many other part-time positions I have held that the ADA has assisted me, such as locating an office that was conducive to my needs while working as a Alternative Living Coordinator at the local Tribal Headquarters Complex . I also worked with the Tribal Maintenance to removed barriers (doors easier to open, bathroom stall made wider and accessible for person in wheelchair, etc.). Not only did these changes fit my work needs, but also the outcome made it more accessible to all tribal members.

Willie's story illustrates the need for the Americans with Disabilities Act in several areas. There are five titles to the ADA. Each of these titles as established in the Act is intended to establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. They are:

Title I – Prohibits employment discrimination
Title II – Prohibits discrimination in programs, activities, and services provided by state and local governments
Title III – Prohibits discrimination in providing public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation
Title IV – Requires common carriers of wire or radio to provide technological accommodations
 Title V – Prohibits retaliation or coercing an individual and encourages the use of alternative means of dispute resolution

 His story also illustrates how hiring a person with a disability can be a positive outcome for the employer as well - Willie has remained on the job for fifteen years, moving into progressively higher levels of responsibility. His experience is consistent with statistics showing people with disabilities to generally have lower job turnover. In addition, the modifications made for him were also a benefit to other visitors to the Tribal Headquarters. Still, ADA is much more limited than you might think, particularly in Indian Country. Read the next page to find out how.

blue next arrowWhat ADA does not guarantee

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