Friday, July 17, 2015

The ADA -- a Big Birthday and New Expectations

July 26 is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is no doubt that curb cuts and automatic door openers have changed the lives of many people with disabilities, mothers with strollers, travelers with suitcases, and delivery personnel.

But the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability in the ADA accomplished so much more. It has standardized aisles in retail stores to 36 inches or more and resulted in access to American sign language interpreters in many emergency rooms. It has caused employers to write realistic job descriptions, conduct more fair interviews of job candidates, and be more flexible and innovative on what it takes to accomplish the essential functions of a job. It has affected where children with disabilities go to school, with whom they spend their day, and how they are educated. It allows, through the national telephone relay service anybody who can hear or not hear to talk with each other, paid for by a small tax on our phone bills that no one notices or worries about. It has increased accessibility of websites and influenced apps made for cell phones and tablets.

These changes are not universal but things are moving in the right direction. Perceptions of people with this abilities are constantly changing for the better. Expectations of people with disabilities held by them and others are constantly being revamped, expanded, and raised.

What should we look for in the next 25 years? Many things for sure. Here is my list:

1. Find new ways to assess the unemployment rate among people with disabilities, perhaps doing it sector by sector and by disability category.

2. Emphasize the inclusion of people with disabilities in all planning activities connected to community projects, renovations, emergency preparedness, and economic development at all levels.

3. Secure more inclusion of people with disabilities in the media world – – as anchors on news shows all the way to being featured in stories about every day life.

4. Hold honest and open national conversations on guardianship, voter participation, and supported decision making.

5. Expect greater recognition by political candidates and elected officials of the power and contributions of people with disabilities can make to campaigns, election results, and policy development in many areas.

6. Provide more support for entrepreneurship among persons with disabilities, who include some of the best problem solvers in the world!

7. Seek greater recognition and responsiveness to people with disabilities by the commercial sector as a marketing target.

What's your list? Tweet to #ADA25bucketlist

Thank you.

Common Grounder