Reflection Essay

Neighborhood Research Reflection - 20% of discover grade

Assignment: Write a 4 -page reflection of your research on your neighborhood (inquiry question, En 101 observation essay, disability field research project, disability readings, and digital story) referencing the ideas in at least 3 of the readings. Here are some questions to consider as you write your reflection. You will not answer all of these questions and your reflection will not be a list of answers (the essay will need an overall theme and will be structured to support this theme).

Disability field research project: These are the main questions growing out of our class's field research that we are trying to answer.

  • What can we do that is cost effective (doesn’t hurt traffic or businesses)?
  • How can older buildings be renovated if they are already established?
  • Why are newer buildings more accessible (funding)?
  • Why are older buildings not renovated? Are regulations more relaxed for older buildings?
  • Why are there not as much for blind and deaf as for wheelchairs?
  • Why is wheelchair accessibility not a larger issue?
  • Why are there not as much for blind and deaf as for wheelchairs?
  • Can we judge 50% of accessibility as positive and negative?
  • Does high residency of disabled /frequency disabled patrons impact accommodations?
  • Does our research ignore other neighborhoods?
  • Do newer buildings serve more disabled people than older buildings?

Inquiry questions

  • Your first inquiry questions (both for u street and your neighborhood, focused on the neighborhood, using observation to drive questions. Looking back at those early questions and research designs, how would you evaluate the questions in terms of 1) whether they are important 2) and in terms of your plans to answer it. What changes would you make knowing what you know that you've completed a small research project.
  • At the beginning of the semester you designed your own inquiry topic before we turned to the class inquiry topic - accessibility. How did these early inquiry questions and research designs help prepare you to tackle the class inquiry question?
  • The class results together gave a more complete answer to our question than did any individual result. Was it gratifying to find patterns in the research or did it make your own work feel insignificant?

Observation essay

  • Since enlightenment, observation and research has been tied together (most visibly in the scientific method). From your experience, what are the pitfalls of observation as a way to create knowledge?
  • After completing the Discover research project, do you feel like you missed anything in your observation of the neighborhood?
  • Think back to your theme for the observation essay - could this theme be expanded to include issues of accessibility or it is too different? Try to rewrite you theme and discuss the results

Readings
“How Americans comply with the Americans with disabilities act”
The topic of the article was more of a definition overview of what businesses should do to comply with the ADA and what complying and creating accommodations actually means. The main points of the article that we could take as a class: what compliance within public accommodations and public transportation means. The article focuses on the addition to handicap parking places in parking lots, removing physical barriers to entrances such as steps and narrow doorways, adding ramps and wider doorways. The main parts of the article that the class should focus on are the intro and first three titles: employment, state and local government services, and public accommodation. (pages 86-90)

  • Were the buildings in your neighborhood that didn't have a ramp housing businesses likely to have less than 15 employees?
  • Were the buildings in your neighborhood that didn't have a ramp an older building?
  • Do you agree with the exceptions to the accommodations as defined by this article?
  • Why is this article, spelling out who needs to comply and what this compliance should look like, necessary 10 years after the law was passed?

"The Perceptions of People with Disabilities as to the Effectiveness of the Americans with Disabilities Act"
The article discusses a study which explores factors that determine how successful disabled respondents found the effectiveness of the ADA act in improving accommodations for the disabled. The study was in the form of a survey asking people of Tennessee to rate changes in accessibility in 3 different areas: the Public sector, Private sector, Telecommunications. 185 participated: 43% male, 57% female. Results from the survey found that respondents reported that public sector has increased (improved) Private Sector has decreased (needs more change) and Telecommunications has increased (improved). The article then discusses factors that influenced the ratings such as age, employment, demographics and perceptions based on specific disabilities. Lastly, the article discusses that the study was inconclusive due to the fact that all participants were from the same area and if the study were to be n performed again, the selection would need to be more random. The class should focus on the discussion and conclusion sections of the study (pages 215-218).

  • In what ways does our class field research support the perceptions of respondents that private businesses aren't assessable? And in what ways does our field research make these perceptions surprising?
  • In what ways does our class field research support the perceptions of respondents that less accommodations are available for those with visual or hearing impairments?
  • Based on your research, how would you have answered the questions respondents were asked about whether accommodations for titles I, II, and III (see article above for definitions of titles) were better, unchanged, or worse?
  • This article closely resembles our field research in terms of process and presentation of findings. What surprises you about the article's organization or content?

“Small Business and the Americans with Disabilities Act”
The main topic of this article is job employment. The topic of the definition comes up many times because no one has an exact definition of the word disability. The ADA has many definitions that many companies have to abide by. The main definition is “a person engaged in industry affecting commerce who has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such person.” The smaller businesses don’t follow ADA rules because they don’t have enough labor and money to hire a full time staff and make the calendar days. The ADA has guidelines that all companies have to listen to and hire equally, making reasonable accommodations for the disabled. The main controversy around the definition of disability comes from the many types of disabilities that a person can have. They start to only use one type of definition to help the main group. Small businesses have more rights to not hire many associates, from the short hours and from the knowledge base the person has to know. Larger businesses have more money to train others and get them ready for the job. Many cases came up about accommodating for their disable workers. The case of Vande Zane vs. State of Wisconsin Dept. of Admin (1995) fought for more employers’ rights for accommodations. The case ended by a state agency was not required to accommodate an employee on medical leave. The courts made it clear that the businesses have no duty to modify the job, just the barriers preventing the disabled from doing the job. Students should focus on pages 59-64.

  • This article focuses on business complying with the laws rather than the disabled . In what ways did it change your perspective?
  • There is much controversy about the ADA's burden on businesses. After reading this article, so you think that the ADA undulely burdens businesses? Why or why not.

“Challenges and Dilemmas in Implementing the Americans With Disabilities Act: Lessons from the first ten years”
This articles includes several main ideas: 1) ADA enacted anti discrimination laws including coverage to many private sector organizations to protect the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities. 2) Title 3 ADA- people with disabilities are allowed in any facility. ; they can't be discriminated against. 3) The articles includes specifics such as how the 15 big bus companies are required to have lift equipment on half their buses by 2006 and all by 2012 (grey hound buses would be covered). 4) In 1996 the justice department released building accessible guidelines for newly constructed facilities. 5) The ADA covers more than physical disabilities and in the past 2-3 decades forms of treatment such as halfway houses and shelter workshops have been made widely available to those with serious mental disabilities. In the beginning of the article it mainly talks about employment among the disabled. Than as you get further into the reading it talks about the public accommodations, to public transportation and buildings. The most important sections for students to read are 1) Public accommodations and 2) Implementation: What have we learned so far (pages 637-640).

  • Which items on the short list of major obstacles to ADA compliance help explain our class findings? Explain.
  • What items might you add based on our research and discussions?
  • The article concludes with the sentence: "The ADA is only the beginning. It is not a solution." How do you interpret that statement? In your opinion, what will the solution entail?

Waist-High in the World

  • How would Nancy Mairs interpret your research findings and/or the classes' research findings?
  • The ADA doesn't deal with private residences at all, yet Mairs has much to say about this. Should accessibility be a factor in new home construction? In buyers decisions about home purchases?
  • Can accessibility make buildings attractive, or will it always be something of an eyesore? Which accommodations can be pleasing? Which cannot (i.e. can a ramp ever add visually to a building or room)? Does the ugliness matter?
  • Nancy Mairs talks about non-disabled people pitying her. Do you pity her after reading her essay? Why or why not? Do you pity disabled people after your field research - why or why not.
  • Mairs contends that making the world accessible is as much a benefit to the non-disables as the disabled. What does she mean? Do you agree?

"Unintended Consequences"

  • The articles sites how the ADA has made access harder for the disabled. Based on your research and reading, do you think the law is more of a good thing or a bad thing?
  • How should it be changed? (Even if you think it is good, how can it be changed).
  • Can laws create a truly welcoming world for the disabled?
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