Once a our government does something extraordinarily good. One such event took place in 1990, as Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. President Bush signed it into law on July 26 of that year.
On this 26th anniversary of the world’s first comprehensive civil rights act for people with disabilities, it is appropriate to reflect on its impact on America. As someone who uses a wheelchair to get around, I see the most benefit in the structural environment. New buildings are made with nearly flat entrances. No more huge staircases to keep me out. Doors are wide enough, and generally I can get around in the building and use the restroom. Buses have lifts and ramps.
We see captioning on TV shows, movies and the news. Sign language interpreters are common when emergency announcements are broadcast.
Communication technology is readily accessible for people who have low vision or are blind in something as common as a cell phone.
Of course problems remain. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is still far too high. This untapped labor force could contribute greatly to business, government and nonprofit employers if given the chance. Not all places are fully compliant with accessibility regulations, and many times accommodations are not offered to those who need them.
But let’s not forget that people with disabilities, as a whole, have made tremendous progress in becoming equal and valued members of society. Happy disability rights day, America!
by Nate Aalgaard, Freedom Resource Center Executive Director