The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs receiving federal financial assistance. The Act also established the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) within the Department of Education to provide leadership and coordination for disability-related programs. 

The Rehabilitation Act was the first comprehensive legislation to address the needs of people with disabilities, and it set the standard for nondiscrimination in federally funded programs. The Act has been amended several times, most recently in 1998, to expand its reach and strengthen its protections. The Rehabilitation Act is an important law that has helped to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to education, employment, and other opportunities.

The Rehabilitation Act and ADA

What sets the rehabilitation act of 1973 apart from the Americans With Disabilities Act? While their employment regulations are similar, the Act of 1973 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. 

The ADA, which became law in 1990, is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all areas of public life, including education, employment, transportation, and public accommodations. The Rehabilitation Act is specifically focused on programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. At the same time, the Americans With Disabilities Act is a general civil rights law that applies to all aspects of public life.

The History Behind the Act

The act came as a result of years of advocacy by disabled people and their allies, who argued that discrimination against disabled people was a form of civil rights violation. President Nixon made the Rehabilitation Act a priority during his first term in office. He saw it as an essential component of his domestic policy agenda. As we know now, over one billion people globally live with some form of disability, making up a significant portion of people eligible to vote.

According to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 history, Nixon worked tirelessly to build support for the bill, and it eventually passed both houses of Congress with strong bipartisan support. However, he ultimately vetoed the bill, citing concerns about its cost. 

Nixon's veto sparked a heated debate among lawmakers, and it was eventually overridden by Congress. The Rehabilitation Act became law in 1973 and has since helped countless Americans with disabilities lead productive lives. 

Rehabilitation Act: the Ins and Outs

The act contains four sections that address different aspects of disability rights. Section 503 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in federal employment. Section 504, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, establishes a program to provide vocational rehabilitation services to people with disabilities. Section 505, the Independent Living Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, provides funding for services to help people with disabilities live independently and establishes procedures for enforcing the rights of people with disabilities under the act. 

Finally, section 508 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. These provisions work together to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the benefits and opportunities offered by the federal government. With all the sections, The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 presented a landmark piece of legislation intending to improve the lives of Americans who were discriminated against.

The Act's Impact and Significance 

The Rehabilitation Act was a far-reaching law that has had a profound and positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities. The law helped ensure that people with disabilities have access to education, employment, and other opportunities. It also led to the development of new technologies and services that make it easier for people with disabilities to participate in society and thus improve their quality of life.

When we try to define the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, we shouldn’t forget that it also established a nationwide system of vocational rehabilitation services to help this vulnerable group of people find and keep jobs. In addition, the Act led to the creation of state-level Independent Living Centers, which offer a range of services to help people with disabilities live independently. 

Knowing that about 2.3 million people worldwide have work-related accidents every year and that millions of people are likely to experience some form of disability at some point in their lives, the importance of the Rehabilitation Act cannot be overstressed.