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16 U.S.F. L. Rev. 653 (1981-1982)
Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Who is Handicapped under Federal Law, The

handle is hein.journals/usflr16 and id is 663 raw text is: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973:
Who Is Handicapped Under
Federal Law
THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 19731 (the Act) was passed
with a goal to develop job programs and vocational opportuni-
ties for the estimated twelve to thirteen million disabled' persons
in the United States.' In an effort to carry out this goal, section
1. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Pub. L. No. 112, § 2(1), 87 Stat. 355, 357 (1973) (codified
as amended at 29 U.S.C. §§ 701-794 (1976 & Supp. III 1979)).
2. The general term disabled is used herein in preference to the term handicapped
except in reference to a particular statute or portion of case law. Handicap has become a
term of art in the law incorporated into numerous state and federal statutes relating to the
disabled. However, it remains a controversial and shunned term in the disabled community.
Handicap, as an appelation for the disabled, has an unclear origin. One theory is that it
derived from the notion of helpless disabled people begging with their cap in hand. Due to
this stigmatizing connotation and its use as a term of art, the term handicap will only be
used to signify disability as defined by the law. Disability is defined as the condition of
being disabled: deprivation or lack esp. of physical, intellectual or emotional capacity or
fitness; also: an instance of such a condition. Wmsa's THIr NEw INTERNATIONAL Dic-
TIONARY 642 (1971).
3. Assessing the size of the disabled community is hard to do, particularly due to the
difficulty in identifying who is included within the universe of the disabled. However, in
1979 the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources submitted a report stating
that: In 1976, according to data collected by the Bureau of Census (Survey of Employment
and Education, 1976), there were 16.6 million adults who reported some level of work disa-
bility. This represented 13 percent of our population' aged 18 to 64 years. S. REP. No. 316,
96th Cong., 1st Sess. 3 (1979) (committee report submitted by Sen. Williams to accompany
S. 446) [hereinafter cited as SENATE RzpoRT ON S. 446].
The report noted that prejudice and outmoded employer attitudes present the most
formidable barrier to employment opportunities for disabled workers and that in human
terms the consequences of this employment discrimination is an image of hopelessness and
loss of dignity and self-worth for disabled individuals. Id. at 4-5. Hearings upon which the
Senate Report was based stated:
There are an estimated 12 million non-institutionalized, disabled persons be-
tween the ages of 18 and 64. At least 7 million are able to work and should
have the opportunity to lead productive lives. The extent to which this group
is denied employment is deplorable and we need to go further in efforts to
eliminate such discrimination.
Equal Employment Opportunity for Handicapped Individuals Act of 1979: Hearings
before the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, 96th Cong., 12th Sess. 250

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