Quenching one's thirst with a nice big glass of water could prove to be a mistake if you are in New York City and find yourself in need of a public restroom. Finding a place for relief in the big apple is not easy, and the city's streets and subways have become public toilets. The necessity for public toilets is apparent to all and in 1991, the Kaplan fund financed six coin operated toilets to be imported from France and tested in the city (Howard 114). These toilets catered to the needs of New York City nearly perfectly; however, they were not made to fit wheelchairs. Disability rights activists demanded that a toilet accommodating to the needs of the wheelchair bound be tested as well. They stated that it was their right, to have public toilets that accommodate all people, including those in wheelchairs. Activists succeeded in getting the city to test the larger, more obtrusive toilet kiosks, only to find that they were basically unused and the cost of the wheelchair accessible toilets was wasted (Howard 115).
The rule that New York City's decision was based on is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Activists were defending the rights of the disabled that are specifically enumerated in the ADA: "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity" (42 USC 12132, 1990).
[...] The question remains as to why, given the financial and legal rights issues, was the ADA passed and widely accepted? The people that were responsible for passing the ADA were responding to incentives that are created by the American constitution. The Constitutional Theory of litigious policy making states that constitutional tradition creates incentives for supporting litigation. One reason that the ADA was passed was because any issues of discrimination would end up in the court system. Rather than trust the centralized government to implement policy, advocates want the courts to do so. [...]
[...] the wheelchair accessible kiosks, it is necessary to understand the history of the ADA and what resulted from its passing. There are financial and social issues that accompanied the enacting of the ADA, but it passed in spite of these issues because of the incentives that were created by American Constitutional tradition. People with disabilities are the largest and most downtrodden minority in America. Many are unemployed, live through welfare checks and experience discrimination in hiring and employment. From the movement to reduce discrimination against disabled people came a rights model that states people are handicapped by society, not by their own disabilities (Burke 70). [...]
[...] In 1990, the ADA gave disabled people the right to be free from discrimination in a multitude of activities and the right to sue any establishment for discrimination (Burke 61). There are issues that are not taken into consideration by the ADA, the first of which is the litigious nature of the act. Litigation has been on the rise since the civil rights movement and has grown and become a large part of the American legal system. However, the litigiousness of the American people has grown and the number of lawsuits filed has increased exponentially (Burke 23). [...]
[...] By naming standards for disability rights, the federal government was able to gain another power over the actions of the states and localities (Burke 98). This is the final incentive of the Constitutional theory: control incentive. This allows for those advocating disability rights to, through litigation, oversee how the states and municipalities accommodate those with disabilities. The ADA allowed the activists to protest the use of wheelchair inaccessible public restrooms in New York. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 succeeded in hampering the installment of public toilets in New York City in the early 1990s. [...]
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