NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 20, 1996

Like many another well-meaning but poorly-thought-out legislative initiatives, the Americans with Disabilities Act is generating some strange administrative problems.

  • The YMCA is being sued for $20 million by a "profoundly" deaf lifeguard after the organization decreed that lifeguards must be able to hear noises and distress signals, then dismissed him.
  • To comply with the act, many states and localities have had to change their hiring requirements for police officers, establishing "sliding scale" physical fitness tests to accommodate older and female applicants.
  • After the National Collegiate Athletic Association revised its regulations to cease recruiting high school athletes unprepared for college work, the Justice Department threatened suit -- alleging discrimination against students with learning disabilities who haven't taken college preparatory courses.
  • A group of deaf people in Cleveland unsuccessfully sued the National Football League, claiming that the "blackout rule" -- which prohibits television broadcasts of home football games that are not sold-out at least 72 hours in advance -- violated the rights of the hearing impaired.

Critics of the ADA say they are concerned that it turns disabilities into prized legal assets and creates a powerful incentive to maximize the number of Americans who claim to be disabled.


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