The effects of disability discrimination have been devastating to many individuals of otherwise outstanding merit. Already having to cope with overcoming the specifics of their physical handicaps, individuals of disability also face the problem of social perceptions. Discrimination against disabled people is a major problem in all of society with many otherwise qualified people unable to gain employment or a normal life due to the preconceptions that the rest of society carries about them.
By far the major problem for many of the disabled is the discrimination that they face when seeking employment. Individuals who are very intelligent and very capable often are presumed to be unfit for a position merely due to a disability such as blindness or being deaf. Many employers assume that taking on a disabled person to their payroll will be assuming a burden and fail to see disabled people as individuals with individual strengths.
Many educators automatically assume that their disabled students are less capable than other students. This has led to the disabled being placed in classes that were beneath their actual abilities and that failed to educate them to their fullest potential. Tracking is a major problem in public education; this is where students are assigned to low end classes without any opportunity to advance to higher skill classes. Many very gifted disabled people face this dilemma.
Many individuals with disabilities have found it difficult to relate with other people and share in a normal social life due to preconceptions associated with their disability. Examples of disabilities that are particularly discriminated against in this way include dwarfism and albinism. All people with disabilities that are visually recognisable are likely to face discrimination of this sort at some point in their lives.
Disabled people often face a form of indirect discrimination when businesses and other groups fail to provide accommodations to buildings such as wheelchair ramps that could make them accessible to the handicapped. This form of discrimination is less common since the passage of the American With Disabilities Act in the 1970s made much of it illegal, but it does still occur. Often these sorts of accommodations could be provided at little to no extra cost.
- Washington Post: Disability Rights Expert Fought Employment Discrimination; Rees Shapiro; October 22, 2010
- New York Times: The Disability Gulag; Harriet Johnson; November 23, 2003
- New York Times: Making Disability Work; Peter Orszag; December 9, 2010
- New York Times: Disabled See Progress, but Problems Persist; Albert Hunt; July 25, 2010