We are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which has improved accessibility for people with disabilities! From physical barriers to barriers to employment, the ADA has proved to be a monumental stepping-stone in the fight for equality and equal access.
We all benefit from the transformation of our built environment that the ADA required, as simple features like ramps assist not only people in wheelchairs, but people with bicycles and suitcases. The accessible option is the best option for everyone.
For people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities, the ADA requires effective communication and greatly increased access to information that otherwise may only have existed as printed words. As technology develops, so too do the standards for effective communication. Real time captioning, audio description, and braille and electronic documentation provide increased access to information. Braille signage allows independent navigation of public spaces. The ADA requires that state and local governments, as well as businesses and nonprofits, effectively communicate to people with all abilities.
The passage of the ADA was hard earned, won through years of protest and legislative action. Coalitions of people with disabilities gained momentum from the equal rights movement of the 1960s and the feminist movement, employing the same tactics to enact change.
In looking back on the anniversary of the ADA, we want to thank the activists, legislators, and dreamers that made the ADA a reality for all Americans. “Long before there were laws mandating accommodations, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. was innovating solutions to enable people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities to build careers in a variety of positions including manufacturing, sales, information and technology support, human resources, and management.” says George Abbott, Senior Vice President.
Although the ADA has done great things, there is more work to be done. Unemployment and underemployment among people who are blind and DeafBlind remains nearly 70%. The Lighthouse is committed to growing career opportunities for and working to empower people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities — and striving to build a community that is truly inclusive for all.
As George H. W. Bush said as he signed the ADA into law, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
Image: (Pictured) Disability Rights activists demonstrating for the ADA. Photo by Tom Olin (DisabilityMuseum.org).