Public Release: 

Consumers with disabilities empowered by American Disabilities Act

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Respondents were asked to report on their awareness of the ADA and to evaluate whether conditions had improved over the years 1994-1998 in public transportation. A study publishing in the latest issue of the Journal of Consumer Affairs is the first to present the perspectives of people with disabilities regarding the effectiveness of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The study asks those for whom the policy was designed how well the policy works. The authors examined the responses from a national sample of 1000 noninstitutionalized persons with disabilities. The study found that respondents who perceived greater access to the marketplace are more satisfied with life and the more consumers with disabilities interact in the market place, the more satisfied with life they are. "This indicates the value behind efforts designed to empower consumers with disabilities by offering services that assist them... and by creating environments that enable them to experience full participation in society," the authors Carol Kaufman-Scarborough and Stacey Menzel Baker state.

Respondents were asked to report on their awareness of the and to evaluate whether conditions had improved over the years 1994-1998 in public transportation, public facilities/theaters/stores, public attitude toward the disabled, and portrayals of disabled people in the media and advertising. Slightly more than half (54.3%) of the respondents reported knowing about a "law" regarding disabilities that was passed within the ten years before their interviews. Approximately that same number could identify it as the ADA. Those that did name the ADA were more likely to perceive positive changes and improvements over those who could not name it or were unaware of a law being passed. Yet, the respondents' level of life satisfaction did not vary with their awareness of the ADA. Their level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction varies regardless of their knowledge of the act. The author's findings support that the legislation is beneficial and that access to public facilities has an impact on life satisfaction. "However our findings do indicate that the implementation of the ADA is incomplete, especially educating consumers with disabilities about their consumer rights," the authors conclude.


This study is published in the current issue of Journal of Consumer Affairs. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact

The purpose of the Journal of Consumer Affairs is to serve as a publication outlet for scholarly research, analysis and informed opinions advancing the consumer interest. The Journal features analysis of individual, business, and/or government decisions and actions that can affect or influence the interests of consumers in the marketplace. It is published on behalf of the American Council on Consumer Interests.

Carol Kaufman-Scarborough is a professor of Marketing in the School of Business at Rutgers University- Camden.

Dr. Kaufman-Scarborough is available for questions and interviews.

Stacey Menzel Baker is a professor in the Department of Management & Marketing at the University of Wyoming.

Dr. Menzel Baker is available for questions and interviews.

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