Celebrating 30 years: The Americans With Disabilities Act

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

July 26, 2020 is a momentous occasion! The date is of great consequence because it marks 30 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. As an American with disability, I want to celebrate through this article. Last week I attended two virtual celebration events. In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned from one of the ADA commemoration events and share my own reflection pertaining to the ADA.

 

The event was presented by the Great Lakes ADA center on July 14, 2020. The session was titled

“ADA Anniversary Update: 30 Years, Where do We go Now?”

The recording and handouts are now publicly available at the link above. One of the panelists stated that after ADA passage, he felt more confident requesting disability accommodations. Through the ADA, people with disabilities have greater opportunity and access to the community. In health care, it is beneficial for both professionals and people with disabilities when the person providing health care services has been trained on caring for people with disabilities. The ADA requires, among many other things, that state and local government programs and services be accessible to persons with disabilities. Panelists also made comments relevant to the future.

 

As the session title indicates, it is important to consider the ADA as it pertains to moving forward. A panelist stated that legislation cannot change attitudes. It was pointed out that disability should be viewed positively. A positive perception can lead to positive attitudes in society about people with disabilities. It is also important to consider diversity in the disability community. Although businesses with fewer than 15 employees are not required to comply with the ADA (i.e. places of public accommodation section), accessibility to businesses can result in people with disabilities utilizing services and the business earning a profit. I will now provide my reflections on the ADA.

 

I have written about the ADA previously. Five years ago, I reflected on the ADA in my article

“ADA 25th anniversary commemoration”.

All of the reflections I wrote about then are still relevant today. Looking to the future, attitudes about and perception of people with disabilities can still pose barriers. Here is a brief example for illustration. I had an account with a company providing online-only services. I reported an accessibility issue to the support department, which eventually made its way to the highest level of support. Initially, the response from an executive support team member was completely positive. However, someone else then wrote to me stating I could not be informed about issue resolution. I chose to not respond because my issue had reach the highest support level. Four months later, I determined on my own that the accessibility problem still existed. Due to that fact and the aforementioned negative communication, I chose to close my account. From my perspective, there is still room for improvement in adequately providing services to people with disabilities. Bottom line: The ADA has enabled people with disabilities to have more opportunities, but there is still work to do for equality.

 

Question for readers: What disability laws have you found beneficial and what areas in society can benefit from disability-related improvements? I will return next week with another article.

 

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