It’s been 30 years since the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990. While a lot has changed since then, there’s still work to be done in terms of how people with disabilities can get the same rights and opportunities that many abled people take for granted.
As a way to bring awareness to this fact, Disability Awareness Days and the activities related to them are tremendously important.
To mark its 30th anniversary, the ADA Anniversary Website has created monthly themes, ranging from topics such as healthcare access and inclusion, voting access, or developmental disability awareness. For the month of July, the website focuses on events that help us explore and learn more about the ADA, and shares stories about how the ADA changed peoples’ lives.
ADA 30th Anniversary: What Has Changed and What Still Needs Work
The Americans with Disabilities Act has fought for individuals with disabilities to receive the same opportunities and independence that every member of society deserves. This includes areas related to employment, local and state government activities, public accommodations, and use of telecommunications.
This has translated into greater accessibility features being incorporated into public spaces and transportation. Schools now need to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities, allowing them to fully participate in the educational process.
Still, though, the work isn’t done, and people with disabilities continue fighting for better rights, access, and integration across the country. In terms of employment, for example, only 19% of people with disabilities in the US were formally employed in 2019, and, according to the same poll, “workers with a disability were more concentrated in service occupations than those with no disability (20.7 percent, compared with 17.0 percent)”.
Yes, change has been happening, and more and more businesses are currently working to create conditions to support greater accessibility, but this is an ongoing process.
That’s why it’s so important to focus on supporting those who have already created infrastructure and opportunities that better integrate people with disabilities into society. And, Disability Awareness Day is a tremendous way to do so.
Celebrate Your Own Disability Awareness Day
Officially, July 26 marks the anniversary of the ADA’s signing into law, however, any day can be a great opportunity to host and celebrate your own Disability Awareness Day.
The idea behind a Disability Awareness Day is to simply create awareness. And how do you do that? Open up spaces, and generate opportunities for those whose voices have been left out of the conversation. In this way, we can all sit down and listen, learn, talk, and share.
Appoint an ADA coordinator and allow them to survey your website, business or venue for accessibility; create focus groups or discussion panels for people with disabilities to provide feedback on your services and/or operations, conduct in-house training on ADA issues on a regular basis and keep yourself informed to help inclusion become the norm.