Economic Science and the Denial of Difference and Diversity: Disability Studies and Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The use of traditional economic analysis to study the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) is challenged in this paper. We review the data sets available to social science researchers who try to measure the costs and benefits of the ADA, and we conclude that the data usually are unreliable given the questions being studied. The ADA has increased access to education, stimulated creative alternatives to health care, opened avenues to employment and increased transportation. Satisfaction indices have increased steadily. The ADA has not solved the negativity that is often associated with difference nor negative attitudes based on ignorance. In the post-ADA environment avoidance behaviors caused by traditional discrimination are replaced by avoidance for fear of legal ramifications. The need for social legislation to overcome hostility towards difference is as pressing now in the U.S. as it ever was in 1960. It would be a travesty to leave the task of promoting inclusion of individuals with disabilities to 'market forces'.
Keywords: ADA, Disabilities
Dr. Tom Tolin
Assistant Professor, Economics and Finance Department, West Chester University
Dr Martin Patwell
Director, Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, West Chester University