September 26, 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the first federal law to “address access and equity for people with disabilities.” Several sections of the Act affect employment and career readiness. A new video explores these sections and their impact—then, now, and looking toward the future of individuals with disabilities.
This video highlights key provisions of the landmark legislation, which protects those with disabilities from discrimination in employment within the federal government as well as with federal contractors. The Rehab Act prohibits employers from discriminating in considering job applicants and working with employees on the basis of disability, emphasizing that applicants be judged on the basis of abilities, experience, and qualifications in “building a more diverse and inclusive culture for all employees.” Its requirements extend beyond people in the workforce, protecting individuals preparing to work or enter into careers. This encompasses equity in public education and includes publicly funded workforce programs such as those provided by the “nationwide network of American job centers overseen by the Labor Department,” which offer employment and training assistance. The video also explains that the Act is flexible to meet changing needs, with additional provisions added requiring information and communication technology used by federal agencies to be accessible to people with disabilities to keep up with the rapid growth of information technology (IT). “If you’re a person able to navigate a government website using a screen reader…that’s the Rehab Act at work.” Many companies have also adopted some of the accessibility provisions. Check out the video on YouTube on the Rehabilitation Act at 50: Advancing Access & Equity for People with Disabilities—Then, Now & Next. Read more about the law and its implementation in the U.S. Department of Justice blog post announcing that the Justice Department Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act.