Printer Friendly

Disability rights: attitudes of private and public sector representatives.

Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been hailed as the most significant civil rights law for individuals with disabilities. This legislation was passed following increased political pressure from disability advocates with the goal of greater inclusion of people with disabilities into mainstream United States culture. The ADA impacts nearly every aspect of American society, providing protection of rights in the areas of employment, state and local government services, transportation, private and public accommodations, and telecommunications. Positive attitudes toward disability rights were vital to the passage of the ADA, and they may give rise to future changes in the law. Therefore, it is important to assess public opinion about disability rights. Such an assessment is particularly needed among representatives from the private and public sectors, given that these individuals are primarily responsible for implementing the Act's key provisions. Although attitudinal research regarding people with disabilities has been extensive (Hernandez, Keys, & Balcazar, 2000; Wilgosh & Skaret, 1987; Yuker, 1994), studies are only beginning to investigate attitudes toward their civil rights as codified by the ADA provisions (Hernandez et al., 2000). Therefore, this study examined attitudes toward disability rights as well as demographic, organizational, experiential, acculturation, and knowledge predictors among representatives of the private and public sectors.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

Although the ADA was modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the disability rights movement dates back to the early 1950's with the origin of the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC) (Altman & Barnartt, 1993). At the time, the ARC was an advocacy organization comprised primarily of parents who sought a life of decency and dignity for individuals with mental retardation. In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act was passed, with Section 504 of this law prohibiting discrimination against Americans with disabilities in all programs and activities receiving federal assistance. Seventeen years later, the ADA was enacted to ensure the inclusion of all people with disabilities to mainstream society. The ADA includes five titles. Title I prohibits discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities in the realm of employment. Title II ensures that eligible individuals are not denied state or local government services, programs, or activities because of their disabilities. Title III prohibits private establishments and places open to the public from discriminating against people with disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, and facilities. Title IV ensures that telecommunications relay services are available for people with speech, hearing, and voice disabilities. Lastly, Title V of the ADA consists of miscellaneous provisions that cover an array of issues, such as the nonprotection of the ADA for those actively using illegal drugs.

Attitudes toward disability rights

Hernandez et al. (2000) reviewed ten studies that examined attitudes toward the ADA provisions among a diverse group of pertinent individuals including executives, recruiters, human resource directors, employers, managers, rehabilitation professionals, individuals with disabilities, and undergraduate students. As a whole, respondents endorsed the overall spirit of disability rights. They were positive about general issues that supported the inclusion of people with disabilities. However, when attitudes toward the employment provisions (Title I) were assessed, representatives from the private sector were less supportive of the law. Specifically, they espoused negative views toward a title perceived as legally complex and costly to implement. Hence, the present study examined attitudes toward disability rights as codified by the ADA among representatives of the private and public sectors, with a particular focus on their views toward the employment provisions.

Malleability of these views

To date, studies have not investigated the malleability of attitudes within the realm of disability fights, despite evidence suggesting that attitudes may not represent a fixed construct that shapes behavior (Olson & Zanna, 1993; Triandis, Adamopoulos, & Brinberg, 1984). A case Louis Harris and Associates (1995) survey found that although national senior executives strongly endorsed the ADA, the percentage of companies that had actually hired people with disabilities increased only slightly from 62% in 1986 to 64% in 1995. Furthermore, related research (namely, employer attitudes toward workers with disabilities) has consistently shown a discrepancy between expressed attitude and behavior. Specifically, employers' expressed willingness to hire workers with disabilities has been incongruent with their actual hiring (Hernandez et al., 2000; Wilgosh & Skaret, 1987). Therefore, the present study assessed the malleability of attitudes toward disability rights by presenting the ADA in a negative and neutral light. It was hypothesized that attitudes, if not strongly held, may be influenced by the wording used.

Knowledge of the law

The extent that attitudes are malleable may be related to participants' knowledge of disability rights legislation. The greater the knowledge, the less likely attitudes are expected to fluctuate (Johnson, 1994; Wood, Kallgren, & Preisler, 1985). In a recent review of the ADA knowledge literature, Hernandez, Keys, and Balcazar (in press) found that private and public sector representatives tended to overestimate their knowledge of this law. Specifically, when data were gathered using self-report items (for example, How knowledgeable are you about the ADA?), respondents often indicated adequate knowledge of this law. However, when an actual ADA knowledge test was administered, they performed poorly. Therefore, in addition to self-report, this study included a psychometrically sound measure of ADA knowledge to determine its relationship with attitudes toward disability rights.

Demographic, organizational, experiential, and acculturation predictors

The present study also examined demographic, organizational, experiential, and acculturation predictors of attitudes toward disability rights, with a particular focus on prior experiences with people with disabilities, academic attainment, company size, and acculturation to mainstream United States culture. Regarding demographic and organizational predictors, there is evidence that supports the influence of academic attainment and company size on attitudes toward disability fights. First, Waiters and Baker (1996) found that employers and recruiters with more formal education expressed higher acceptance of the ADA than those with less formal education, although Satcher and Hendren (1992) found that academic attainment was not predictive of ADA acceptance. Second, Callahan (1994) found that managers from smaller companies expressed more concerns with the ADA employment provisions than those from larger ones.

Extensive research has shown that prior experiences with people with disabilities in personal and work settings relate positively to attitudes toward this group (Hernandez et al., 2000; Wilgosh & Skaret, 1987; Yuker, 1994). At present, it is unclear to what extent prior contact influences attitudes toward disability rights. Of four studies that examined these two variables, two found positive (Scheid, 1999; Waiters & Baker, 1996) and two found nonsignificant (Satcher & Hendren, 1991; 1992) relationships. However, the two studies indicating positive attitudes examined the influence of prior work experience with people with disabilities. In contrast, Satcher and Hendren (1992) defined contact as experiences with a friend, relative, or close acquaintance with a disability. Type of contact was not defined in the Satcher and Hendren (1991) study. Thus, preliminary evidence suggests that the specific type of contact may be a relevant variable in predicting attitudes toward disability rights.

Lastly, the influence of acculturation to mainstream United States culture was investigated, given that United States cities and their businesses are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. For example, from 1995 to 2025, it is estimated that individuals of Hispanic and Asian origins will account for 61% of the population growth in this country (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1996). As U.S. cities and their businesses become more diverse, it becomes vital to assess whether acculturation to mainstream culture influences their attitudes toward disability rights. No study has investigated the relations between these two variables.

Method

Sites

Sites represented six Chicago communities with varied levels of acculturation to mainstream U.S. culture. Five of these communities consisted of numerous members of a particular ethnic group (namely, Filipino, Greek, Asian Indian, Latino, and Lithuanian). The sixth community was selected to represent a suburban community in which no particular ethnic group predominated. Communities were selected to match the ethnic background of data collectors, who were advanced undergraduate students in a course on community research. This cultural matching facilitated participants' understanding of the study and its instruments.

Sample

Participants were 133 representatives of the private and public sectors, including business owners, managers, educators, and social service providers. In addition to being responsible for ensuring ADA compliance for job applicants and employees with disabilities, these representatives are responsible for complying with the public accommodations provisions (Title III) of the ADA. Thus, participants were selected from the twelve types of establishments characterized by Title III: 1) places of lodging, 2) establishments serving food or drink, 3) places of exhibition or entertainment, 4) places of public gathering, 5) sales or rental establishments, 6) service establishments, 7) transportation stations, 8) places of public display or collection, 9) places of recreation, 10) places of education, 11) social service establishments, and 12) places of exercise or recreation.

For five of the six community sites, establishments were randomly selected from either a chamber of commerce, business, social service, or telephone directory. These directories listed establishments alphabetically and grouped them by type of business. Each establishment was sequentially assigned a number from one through twelve, and selected for participation based on roll of the dice. The number of participants sampled within each of the 12 Title III categories mentioned above was in proportion to the number listed in the directories used for each site. A directory was not available for the Asian Indian community; thus, representatives from every third Title III establishment on its main commercial street were approached for participation in this study.

Instruments

1. The Demographic Information Questionnaire, a self-report paper-and-pencil instrument, was used to collect data concerning demographic (e.g., sex, age, ethnicity, education, and income) and organizational characteristics (e.g., job title, years of employment, company size, and type of establishment). Respondents reported if they had any prior contact with family members, relatives, friends, employees, or customers with disabilities. They also indicated any prior work or volunteer experience in the disabilities field.

2. A modified version of the Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics (Marin, Sabogal, Matin, Otero-Sabogal, & Perez-Stable, 1987) assessed acculturation to mainstream United States culture. A 12-item paper-and-pencil measure, this scale taps language use, media use, and social relations and the extent that they are oriented toward mainstream U.S. culture or one's culture of origin (for example, "In what language(s) are the TV programs you usually watch."). For each item, a five-point Liken-type scale is used, with 1 indicating low acculturation toward mainstream U.S. culture and 5 high acculturation. Coded responses are summed and then divided by 12. Responses from samples of Hispanic and non-Hispanic participants have demonstrated the scale's validity and reliability. For this study, the scale was modified by replacing the term Hispanic with the ethnic ancestry reported by each respondent.

3. The ADA Knowledge Survey (Hernandez, Keys, & Balcazar, in press), a 20-item paper-and-pencil measure, assessed knowledge regarding the ADA provisions (for example, "The presence of a physical impairment in itself is sufficient evidence of a disability to provide protection under the ADA."). Four items target Title I (employment), six Title II (state and local government services), and five Title III (public accommodations). An additional five items are classified as general because they pertain to all titles. For each item a true-false format is used. In addition, a "do not know" option is provided. The sum of correct responses yields a score of overall knowledge of the ADA, with a possible range of 0 to 20. Responses from a sample of university students and ADA experts have demonstrated the survey's validity and reliability.

4. The Disability Rights Attitude Scale (DRAS, Hernandez, Keys, Balcazar, & Drum, 1998), a 27-item paper-and-pencil measure, assessed attitudes toward the ADA titles and general sentiment toward disability rights (for example, "Individuals who use wheelchairs should not be encouraged to use public transportation."). For each item a six-point Likert-type scale is used, with 1 indicating a strong negative attitude and 6 a strong positive attitude. There are seven items that target Title I (employment), eight Title II (state and local government services), nine Title III (public accommodations), and four disability rights in general. The sum of coded responses represents an overall attitude toward disability rights, with a possible range of 27 to 162. Higher scores indicate more positive attitudes. Responses from two samples of university students have demonstrated the DRAS' reliability and validity.

Procedures.

Participants completed measures individually, and they were administered by one of six teams comprised of two or three advanced university students enrolled in a community psychology research course. Each team was assigned one of the six communities, and each team had at least one student who was a member of the ethnic group most dominant in that community to help with verbal translation and comprehension of the study and its instruments. Before data collection, these students attended class lectures in the areas of disability and community research (Keys, Horner-Johnson, Weslock, Hernandez, & Vasiliauskas, 1999). They were trained regarding instrument administration, the presentation protocols, and participant selection criteria. They also received supervision twice a week to discuss the data collection process and issues.

Data collectors explained the purpose of the study, obtained informed consent, and provided participants with a brief overview of the ADA. Seventy participants received a neutral presentation of the ADA and 63 participants received a negative presentation:

Neutral--The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires some businesses to make reasonable changes and modifications in order to hire and support employees with disabilities.

Negative--The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that requires many businesses to make changes and modifications in order to hire and support employees with disabilities. Many have complained that this law is a burden for businesses. They say it can be complicated to understand and costly, especially if you have to make physical changes to your establishment.

Then, participants completed surveys in their establishments. Clarification in English or participants' first language was provided upon request. Typical time to complete the surveys was 20 minutes. After completing the surveys, participants were debriefed and given additional information about the ADA Title III requirements and available tax credits for making accessibility improvements. When potential participants were unavailable, data collectors made several attempts to contact them.

Results

Results of this study are organized and presented in three sections. The first section provides a description of the sample, including their demographic, organizational, and experiential characteristics. The second section provides results from individual measures: the Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics (modified version), the ADA Knowledge Survey, and the Disability Rights Attitude Scale. The third section responds to the demographic, organizational, experiential, acculturation, and knowledge predictors of attitudes toward disability rights.

I. Description of the sample

Of 212 individuals approached, 141 agreed to participate. Reasons offered for refusing to participate included: 1) unavailability of managers or owners; 2) time constraints; 3) suspicions about the study (specifically, fear of litigation); and 4) language barriers. Eight surveys were discarded because the Disability Rights Attitude Scale was not thoroughly completed (no response to three or more items), yielding a total of 133 research participants and 63% participation percentage. One hundred and nine were representatives of the private sector, and 24 represented the public sector. Seventy participants received the neutral presentation of the ADA and 63 received the negative presentation of this law. Participants were from the following communities: 23% Filipino; 21% suburban; 19% Lithuanian; 14% Latino; 14% Greek; and 9% Asian Indian.

Table 1 summarizes demographic characteristics of the participants. In sum, frequencies indicate that 58% were male; 55% were between 30 and 50 years of age; 52% were of European descent; 87% spoke English well; 68% were college graduates; and 50% were earning below $40,000 annually.

Table 2 displays organizational characteristics of the participants. Frequencies reveal that 43% were managers; 35% were owners; 69% were in their current employment position for ten or fewer years; 72% had 15 or fewer employees; 56% were employed in sales, rental, or service establishments; and 82% represented the private (for profit) sector.

Table 3 summarizes participants' prior experiences with individuals with disabilities in their personal and professional lives. Frequencies indicate that 77% had prior contact with people with disabilities in one or more of the following ways: 17% resided with a family member who has a disability; 31% had a relative (not residing in their home) with a disability; 23% had a friend with a disability; and 5% reported having a disability. Additionally, 23% had worked or volunteered in the disability field and 21% reported having an employee with a disability.

II. Instrumentation results

a) Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics (modified version)--Participants obtained an overall mean of 3.5 (SD = .91). Scores ranged from 1.2 to 5. This scale has a possible score range of 1 to 5.

b) ADA Knowledge Survey--Participants obtained an overall Mean of 8.2 (SD = 5.1). Scores ranged from 0 to 19. This survey has a possible score range of 0 to 20.

c) Disability Rights Attitude Scale--Participants obtained an overall mean of 125.2 (SD = 18.1) on the DRAS. Scores ranged from 66 to 162. This scale has a possible score range of 27 to 162.

III. Correlates and predictors of attitudes toward disability rights a) Attitudes of private and public sector representatives toward disability rights

The overall DRAS mean score was computed to determine participants' attitude toward disability rights and the ADA. The overall DRAS mean of 125.2 (SD = 18.1) fell in the "positive" range as reported in the DRAS manual (Hernandez, Keys, Balcazar, & Drum, 1997). The DRAS norms reported in this manual are based on two samples of university students, who obtained means of 129.24 (SD = 16.6) and 128.85 (SD = 16.9). These two scores did not differ significantly from the overall DRAS mean of 129.6 (SD = 16.4) for participants who received the neutral ADA presentation in the present study. Furthermore, participants from the private sector were significantly less positive about all three ADA titles than public sector representatives: employment, t (131) = 3.09, p < .002; state and local government services, t (131) = 2.71, p < .008; and public accommodations, t (131) = 3.08, p < .003. See Table 4.

b) Malleability of ADA attitudes

DRAS mean scores for participants who received the neutral ADA presentation and those who received the negative ADA presentation were 129.6 (SD = 16.4) and 120.3 (SD = 18.8), respectively. A t test indicated a significant difference between these two scores, t (131) = 3.05, p < .003, with those obtaining the neutral ADA presentation expressing more positive attitudes toward disability rights.

c) Academic attainment and attitudes toward disability rights

There was not a significant difference between the DRAS mean scores of participants with more formal education and those with less formal education (see Table 1).

d) Company size and attitudes toward disability rights

DRAS mean scores were significantly different based on establishment size, F (3, 127) = 2.25, p < .035. A least-significant difference post hoc analysis (which uses t tests to perform all pairwise comparisons between group means) revealed that participants with over 45 employees expressed more positive attitudes toward disability rights than those with no employees (see Table 2). However, with prior work/volunteer contact statistically controlled, the partial correlation between company size and disability attitudes decreased from .22 to .15, reducing the variance accounted for from 4.4% to 2.5% and the significance level from p < .01 to p < .08. Therefore, this result reflected the significance of prior experience and not company size.

e) Prior contact with people with disabilities and attitudes toward disability rights

Participants with prior work experience with people with disabilities (defined as prior work or volunteer experience in the disabilities field or having employees with disabilities) expressed more positive attitudes toward disability rights than those who did not have this experience, t (131) = 2.60, p < .01. In contrast, participants with prior contact with people with disabilities in their personal lives (including prior contact with family members, relatives, or friends with disabilities) did not obtain significantly different DRAS mean scores from those without this experience (see Table 3).

f) Acculturation to mainstream U.S. culture related to attitudes toward disability rights

A correlational analysis revealed a nonsignificant relationship between attitudes toward disability rights and acculturation to mainstream U.S. culture.

g) Knowledge of the ADA and attitudes toward disability rights

A significant positive relationship was found between knowledge of the ADA and attitudes toward this law, r (133) = .21, p < .016.

h) Other demographic variables, organizational, and experiential characteristics and attitudes toward disability rights

Statistical analyses (t tests and analyses of variance) were conducted to examine relationships between other demographic, organizational, and experiential characteristics and attitudes toward disability rights. Of these characteristics, type of establishment substantially (substantially was defined as p < .01) related to ADA attitudes. Due to small sample sizes for the twelve types of establishments categorized by the ADA, establishments were categorized as either a private (for profit) or public (non-profit) entity. Private establishments included: places of lodging; establishments serving food or drink; sales or rental establishments; service establishments; and places of exercise or recreation. Public establishments included: places of public gathering; places of public display or collection; places of recreation; places of education; and social service establishments. A t test indicated that participants from private establishments expressed less positive attitudes toward disability rights than those from public establishments, t (131 ) = 3.12, p < .002 (see Table 2).

A stepwise multiple regression analysis was used to determine the relative contribution of five significant correlates to predicting attitudes toward disability rights. These correlates are malleability of ADA attitudes, knowledge of the ADA, prior experiences with people with disabilities in work settings, establishment size, and type of establishment. See Table 5 for correlation coefficients of these significant correlates. Of the five relevant independent variables

entered, a stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that type of establishment accounted for the largest amount of the DRAS's variance (7%), followed by the malleability of ADA attitudes (6%) and knowledge of the ADA (3%). Together these three independent variables accounted for 15% of the variance (see Table 6).

Discussion

Overall, results from this study corroborate a recent literature review regarding attitudes toward disability rights (Hernandez et al., 2000). Both private and public sector representatives expressed favorable attitudes toward the ADA and disability rights. They endorsed the inclusion of people with disabilities into mainstream U.S. culture. However, private sector representatives were notably less positive in their views than public sector representatives. This significant finding is worrisome because private sector representatives are directly responsible for implementing many of the ADA provisions.

Second, studies have not examined the malleability of attitudes toward disability rights, even though evidence suggests that attitudes may not represent a fixed construct that shapes behavior (Olson & Zanna, 1993; Triandis et al., 1984). This study found that attitudes toward disability rights may not be strongly held and can be influenced by situational factors (such as, presenting the ADA very briefly in a negative or neutral light). A simple, two to three sentence difference in the presentation yielded a significant difference in expressed attitudes. To date, studies have indicated general concerns with ADA-related implementation costs and with the ambiguity of this law (Hernandez et al., 2000). However, more qualitative data are needed to better understand and address the nuances of these conflicted views. Potential areas to explore include: 1) respondents' understanding of the ADA and disability rights, 2) respondents' perceptions regarding the costs of ADA-related accommodations in their respective establishments and the reality of their perceptions, and 3) respondents' understanding of possible benefits that may be garnered as a result of ADA compliance. Furthermore, participants' knowledge about the ADA was minimal. Given that they possessed little prior knowledge about this law, it is not surprising that their attitudes toward disability rights were easily influenced (Johnson, 1994; Wood et al., 1985).

More importantly, this particular finding has direct implications for how the ADA is portrayed by the popular media and those in positions of power and influence. For example, John Stossel (correspondent for the TV news program "20/20") examined the ADA and focused on the reported abuses of this law and alleged problems with defining the term "disability" (Thrasher, 1996). Given this information, at the end of this news program segment, Barbara Waiters reflected on the need to perhaps repeal the ADA. In contrast, John Hockenberry (correspondent for the TV news program "Dateline" and user of a wheelchair) portrayed this law in a more positive light by presenting actual instances of employer discrimination and addressing the need for civil rights protection (Hockenberry, 1997). Hence, if the goal of disability advocates is to shape public attitudes toward disability rights in a favorable direction, then more positive and accurate portrayals of the ADA and its benefits are needed in the popular media. Furthermore, popular media can play a more influential role by including positive and realistic portrayals of people with disabilities in advertisements, new reports, TV programs, and motion pictures. Disability-related issues can also be included in diversity and multicultural curricula and training that are already being conducted in many schools, social service agencies, businesses, and corporations. Such inclusion efforts would provide opportunities for the general public to view people with disabilities as members of our society, who are deserving of civil rights protection.

Third, results from this study illustrate some of the contradictions that have been apparent in past research pertaining to prior contact with people with disabilities and attitudes toward disability rights. Specifically, this study and others (Scheid, 1999; Waiters & Baker, 1996) have provided solid evidence that experiences with workers with disabilities positively impact attitudes toward their civil rights. On the other hand, this study also found that prior contact with people with disabilities in familial or social settings was not a correlate of disability rights, and corroborate past research by Satcher and Hendren (1991; 1992). Taken together, these mixed findings highlight the complexity of the prior contact variable and need for further research. A qualitative study may help identify possible differences between the two types of contacts and their implications for attitudes toward disability rights.

Fourth, the influence of academic attainment on attitudes toward disability rights is debatable. Waiters and Baker (1996) found that respondents with more formal education expressed higher acceptance of the ADA than those with less formal education. However, the present study and the two studies by Satcher and Hendren (1991; 1992) did not find a relationship between these two variables. For the present study, a lack of difference in attitudes may have been due to a lack of variability in the academic attainment of participants. The relationship between these two variables merits further investigation.

The one other study that has examined the influence of company size on ADA attitudes found a relationship between these two variables (Callahan, 1994). The present study corroborated this finding. Specifically, participants from large establishments (greater than 45 employees) espoused more favorable attitudes than participants with no employees. The positive effect of company size on attitudes toward the ADA may be due in part to the likelihood that individuals from larger companies have greater opportunities to be exposed to individuals with disabilities at work than those from smaller companies, especially those with no employees. In fact, results suggested that prior work contact provides a partial explanation for the relation between company size and attitudes toward disability rights.

Fifth, this study found a significant and positive relationship between ADA knowledge and attitudes toward disability rights, indicating that participants with more knowledge expressed more favorable attitudes. This particular finding underscores the importance of educating the general public about the ADA and emphasizing the need for disability rights education. Sixth, acculturation to mainstream United States culture did not relate to attitudes toward disability rights. Thus, preliminary evidence suggests that members of other cultures may be just as supportive of disability rights as those who identify with mainstream U.S. culture.

Finally, of five variables that related to disability rights (including malleability of ADA attitudes, knowledge of the ADA, prior experiences with people with disabilities in work settings, type of establishment, and establishment size), those that demonstrated the strongest and most significant relationships were type of establishment, malleability of ADA attitudes, and ADA knowledge, For type of establishment, entities were categorized as either private (for profit) or public (non-profit). Public sector representatives expressed more favorable attitudes toward the ADA than private sector representatives. This finding is consistent with the only other study that examined views of private and public sector representatives (Moore & Crimando, 1995). It should also be noted that Moore and Crimando had larger sample sizes for private and public sector representatives compared to those in this investigation. It is conceivable that private sector representatives expressed less positive attitudes toward disability rights because they are more directly and financially responsible for implementing key ADA provisions than public sector representatives. As previously discussed, prior work experience and company size were significant, independent predictors of ADA attitudes as well.

Limitations of this study

The participation percentage for this study was 63%. Reasons for non-participation were the unavailability of managers and owners, time constraints, fear of litigation, and language barriers. Because findings are based on a cooperative sample, it is unknown whether results would have varied with no refusals. However, it is worth noting that the participation percentage for this study was consistent with similar studies (Scheid, 1999; Waiters & Baker, 1997). Additionally, sites were limited to six specific ethnic communities. Thus, generalizations to communities outside of those used in this study may only be made with caution. Lastly, due to language barriers, some participants required verbal translation of the study and its surveys. Skilled translators were available to assist; however, the adequacy and consistency of translation may have varied across data collectors.

Conclusion

The ADA is in its second decade of implementation, and it is increasingly important to assess perceptions of disability rights among key stakeholders. This study provides an indication of attitudes toward disability rights among representatives of the private and public sectors. As such, it contributes to a young and important field of research.
Table 1
Demographic Characteristics of Participants and their
Mean Disability Rights Attitude Scale Scores (n = 133)

Characteristic n % M SD

Sex
Male 77 57.9 124.8 18.5
Female 56 42.1 125.7 17.7

Age
18-29 28 21.1 126.0 16.1
30-39 37 27.8 126.1 19.2
40-49 36 27.1 122.8 18.6
50-59 16 12.0 130.6 16.7
60 or more 11 8.3 120.8 22.3
Missing 5 3.8 -- --

Ethnicity
European 69 51.9 127.0 (a) 18.8
Asian 32 24.1 119.4 (b)
Latino 13 9.8 133.2 (a) 19.0
Other 9 6.8 124.8 14.7
Asian Indian 7 5.3 118.3 17.3
African-American 3 2.3 127.3 8.4

Academic attainment
High/Trade School 19 14.3 130.5 14.5
College/Graduate School 90 67.7 125.1 18.5
Missing 24 18.0 -- --

Income level
under $20,000 14 10.5 113.8 18.4
$21-30,000 24 18.0 125.0 16.6
$31-40,000 29 21.8 130.4 12.9
$41-50,000 12 9.0 124.4 15.9
$51-60,000 11 8.3 126.0 14.4
$61-80,000 12 9.0 127.2 22.8
above $81,000 14 10.5 116.6 24.9
Missing 17 12.8 -- --

Note. Means with different subscripts differ at the p < 0.05.

Table 2
Organisational Characteristics of Participants and their Mean
Disability Rights Attitude Scale Scores (n = 133)

Characteristic n % M SD

Job title
Manager 57 42.9 124.2 14.7
Owner 46 34.6 123.0 19.7
Other 28 21.1 132.0 20.5
Missing 2 1.5 -- --

Years at current position
0-5 62 46.6 126.5 15.8
6-10 30 22.6 126.9 19.7
11-15 12 9.0 121.8 20.9
16 and over 16 12.0 118.6 18.8
Missing 13 9.8 -- --

Type of establishment by sector *
Private sector (for profit) 109 82.0 122.9 (a) 18.4
Places of lodging 3 2.3
Establishments serving food or drink 28 21.1
Sales or rental establishments 39 29.3
Service establishments 35 26.3
Places of exercise or recreation 4 3.0

Public sector (non-profit) 24 18.0 135.3 (b) 12.4
Places of public gathering 4 3.0
Places of public display or collection 6 4.5
Places of recreation 2 1.5
Places of education 6 4.5
Social service establishments 6 4.5

Number of employees
None 15 11.3 119.1 (a) 19.1
1-15 81 60.9 123.7 17.3
16-45 20 15.0 130.2 19.9
46 and over 15 11.3 133.0 (b) 17.5
Missing 2 1.5 -- --

* Note. Given small sample sizes for the 12 types of establishments
categorized by the ADA, establishments were categorized as either
private (for profit) or public (non-profit). Means with different
subscripts within each category differ at p < .05.

Table 3
Participants' Prior Experiences with Persons with Disabilities and
their Mean Disability Rights Attitude Scale Scores (n=133)

Type of Contact n % M SD

Overall prior contact with persons with 102 76.7 126.7 17.9
disabilities in work & personal
settings
No overall prior contact with persons 31 23.3 120.0 18.1
with disabilities in work & personal
settings

Overall prior contact with persons with 49 36.8 130.4 (a) 17.2
disabilities in work settings
No overall prior contact with persons 84 63.2 122.1 (b) 18.0
with disabilities in work settings

Overall prior contact with persons with 70 52.6 126.3 18.3
disabilities in personal settings
No overall prior contact with persons 63 47.4 123.9 17.9
with disabilities in personal settings

Prior work or volunteer experience in 30 22.6 131.0 (a) 15.6
disabilities field
Without prior work or volunteer 101 75.9 123.2 (b) 18.6
experience in disabilities field
Missing 2 1.5

Employee contact 28 21.1 131.8 (a) 16.8
Without employee contact 99 74.4 123.7 (b) 18.4
Missing 6 4.5

Immediate family member contact 22 16.5 124.6 19.6
Without immediate family member 108 81.2 125.2 18.1
contact
Missing 3 2.3

Relative contact 41 30.8 128.0 20.3
Without relative contact 91 68.4 124.0 17.1
Missing 1 .8

Friend contact 30 22.6 128.8 16.5
Without friend contact 99 74.4 124.2 18.5
Missing 4 3.0

Participants with a disability 7 5.3 131.4 14.7
Participants without a disability 123 92.5 124.6 18.4
Missing 3 2.3

Note. Means with different subscripts within each category differ at
p < .05.

Means with same subscripts within each category differ at p < .01.

Table 4
Mean Disability Rights Attitude Scale Scores Across ADA Titles and by
Type of Business
 Mean (SD)

All participants
Grand mean (all items) 4.62 (a) (.68)
Employment (Title 1) 4.60 (a) (.73)
State & local government services (Title 2) 4.88 (b) (.74)
Public accommodations (Title 3) 4.48 (a) (.80)
Disabilities rights in general 4.51 (a) (.94)

Participants by type of business (private
versus public sector)
Grand mean (all items)--Private 4.55 (a) (.68)
Grand mean (all items)--Public 5.01 (b) (.46)

Employment (Title 1)--Private 4.51 (a) (.74)
Employment (Title 1)--Public 5.00 (b) (.53)

State & local government services 4.80 (a) (.76)
(Title 2)--Private
State & local government services 5.24 (b) (.55)
(Title 2)--Public

Public accommodations (Title 3)--Private 4.39 (a) (.80)
Public accommodations (Title 3)--Public 4.92 (b) (.62)

Disabilities rights in general--Private 4.47 (a) (.96)
Disabilities rights in general--Public 4.69 (a) (.85)

Note. A six-point Likert-type scale was used, whereby 1 = strongly
disagree and 6 = strongly agree. Means with different subscripts
within the All participants category dif-fer at p < .05. Means with
different subscripts within the Participants by type of business
category differ at p < .01.

Table 5
Correlation Coefficients of Predictor Variables for the Disability
Rights Attitude Scale Stepwise Multiple Regression Analysis (n = 133)

 1 2 3 4

1 Disability Rights Attitude Scale --
2 Malleability of ADA attitudes 26 *** --
3 Knowledge of the ADA .22 ** .10 --
4 Prior contact with people with
 disabilities in work settings .22 ** .09 .10 --
5 Size of establishment .22 ** .06 .17 * .37 ***
6 Type of establishment .26 *** .07 .12 .31 ***

 5 6

1 Disability Rights Attitude Scale
2 Malleability of ADA attitudes
3 Knowledge of the ADA
4 Prior contact with people with
 disabilities in work settings
5 Size of establishment --
6 Type of establishment .20 ** --

Note. * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p <.001.

Table 6
Stepwise Multiple Regression Results for Predictor Variables and the
Disability Rights Attitude Scale (n = 133)

Predictor Variable B Beta [R.sup.2] Change

Type of establishment -10.61 -.22 .07 **
Malleability of ADA attitudes -8.24 -.23 .06 **
Knowledge of the ADA .61 .17 .03 *

Cumulative [R.sup.2] = .15

Adjusted Cumulative [R.sup.2] = .13

Multiple R = .39

Note. * p < .05. ** p < .01.


References

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 42 U.S.C. [section] 12101 (1990).

Altman, B.M., & Barnartt, S.N. (1993). Moral entrepreneurship and the promise of the ADA. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 4, 21-40.

Callahan, T.J. (1994). Managers' beliefs about and attitudes toward the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Applied Human Resource Management Research, 5, 28-43.

Louis Harris & Associates. (1995). The National Organization on Disability/Louis Harris and Associates survey on employment of people with disabilities. New York: Author.

Hernandez, B., Keys, C., Balcazar, F., & Drum, C. (1997). The Disability Rights Attitude Scale Manual. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute on Disability and Human Development.

Hernandez, B., Keys, C., Balcazar, E, & Drum, C. (1998). Construction and validation of the Disability Rights Attitude Scale: Assessing attitudes toward the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Rehabilitation Psychology, 43, 203-218.

Hernandez, B., Keys, C., & Balcazar, F. (2000). Employer attitudes toward workers with disabilities and their ADA employment rights: A literature review. Journal of Rehabilitation, 66, 4-16.

Hernandez, B., Keys, C., & Balcazar, F. (in press). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Knowledge Survey: Strong Psychometrics and Weak Knowledge. Rehabilitation Psychology.

Hockenberry, J. (Correspondent). (1997, September 9). Access: The ins and outs of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Dateline. New York: National Broadcasting Company.

Johnson, B.T. (1994). Effects of outcome-relevant involvement and prior information on persuasion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 556-579.

Keys, C., Horner-Johnson, A., Weslock, K., Hernandez, B., & Vasiliauskas, L. (1999). Learning science for social good: Dynamic tensions in developing undergraduate community researchers. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 18, 141-156.

Marin, G., Sabogal, F., Marin, B.V., Otero-Sabogal, R., & Perez-Stable, E. J. (1987). The Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 9, 183-205.

Moore, T.J., & Crimando, W. (1995). Attitudes toward Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 38, 232-247.

Olson, J.M., & Zanna, M.P. (1993). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 117-154.

Petty, R.E., & Cacioppo, J.T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 123-205.

Satcher, J., & Hendren, G.R. (1991). Acceptance of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by persons preparing to enter the business field. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 22, 15-18.

Satcher, J., & Hendren, G.R. (1992). Employer agreement with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Journal of Rehabilitation, 58, 13-17.

Scheid, T.L. (1999). Employment of individuals with mental disabilities: Business response to the ADA's challenge. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 17, 73-91.

Thrasher, D.K. (Producer). (1996, July 19). Getting in on the act. In 20/20. New York: American Broadcasting Company.

Triandis, H.C., Adamopoulos, J., & Brinberg, D. (1984). Perspectives and issues in the study of attitudes. In Jones, R.L. (1984). Attitudes and Attitude Change in Special Education. Reston, Virginia: The Council for Exceptional Children.

U.S. Bureau of the Census (1996). Warmer, older, more diverse: State-by-state population changes to 2025 (Census Brief No. CENBR/96-1). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.

Walters, S.E., & Baker, C.M. (1996). Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Employer and recruiter attitudes toward individuals with disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation Administration, 20, 15-23.

Wilgosh, L., & Skaret, D. (1987). Employer attitudes toward hiring individuals with disabilities: A review of the recent literature. Canadian Journal of Rehabilitation, 1, 89-98.

Wood, W., Kallgren, C.A., & Preisler, R.M. (1985). Access to attitude-relevant information in memory as a determinant of persuasion: The role of message attributes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 21, 73-85.

Yuker, H.E. (1994). Variables that influence attitudes toward people with disabilities: Conclusions from the data. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 9, 3-22.

Brigida Hernandez

DePaul University

Christopher B. Keys

University of Illinois at Chicago

Fabricio E. Balcazar

University of Illinois at Chicago

Brigida Hernandez, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, DePaul University, 2219 N. Kenmore, Chicago, IL 60614.
COPYRIGHT 2004 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Balcazar, Fabricio E.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:6872
Previous Article:Merging cultural differences and professional identities: strategies for maximizing collaborative efforts during the implementation of the Workforce...
Next Article:Medical, pyschological, social, and programmatic barriers to employment for people with multiple sclerosis.
Topics:


Related Articles
The Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights for an emerging minority.
Employer agreement with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: implications for rehabilitation counseling.
The interaction of legislation, public attitudes, and access to opportunities for persons with disabilities.
National Association of Service Providers in Private Rehabilitation.
Employer Attitudes Toward Workers with Disabilities and their ADA Employment Rights: A Literature Review.
Progress in Developing New Attitudes and Laws to Help Americans with Disabilities.
Job placement: the development of theory-based measures.
Ontario's new accessibility act starts a 20 year process.
Ruth O'Brien, Voices from the Edge: Narratives about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters