The 26th Anniversary of the ADA: Progress and Lingering Obstacles
Last month marked the 26th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President H.W. Bush in 1990. A law that ensured that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else; giving civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. What a significant milestone for the disability community! Celebrations took place across the nation, as many saluted its impact in creating a more inclusive society.
The way we look at disability and the way we define disability has changed significantly since the inception of the ADA. The ADA was able to create easily understood and conceptually sound structures for how accessibility and non-discrimination can work in real life practice. Prior to its passing, most people—even most of the disability community—had no real clue what actual equal opportunity might look like. For the 6.5 million students and the approximately 50 million adults living with mental or physical disabilities, the ADA has removed significant barriers and has empowered many to make of their lives what they wish.
We bring this up because it serves as a significant memorandum of how far we have come in creating a nation that recognizes those from all walks of life, and that we function more efficiently as a nation when we draw on the talents of all people. However, it also serves as a reminder of how we must continue the momentum, as we still have work to do!
One major concern that lingers is the fact that there are still too many people with disabilities who are unemployed; there still remains a degree of bias from employers. Some critics of the ADA have argued that some employers are afraid to hire a person with a disability because they fear it’s going to cost them a considerable amount extra (for training, accessibility, etc.). However, upon further research, they would see that the actual costs involved can be very little. The fact is, some of the laws put into place by the ADA still remain unenforced. It’s too easy for businesses to claim that accessibility/training is too burdensome or to avoid hiring people with disabilities altogether. Preconceived notions about people with disabilities remain; whether they are acknowledged or not. Thus it’s important that we continue to educate in order to help overcome potential risk aversion.
DirectCourse is proud to provide online education resources to direct care professionals. We aim to continue to reduce barriers for those with disabilities so they can receive equal opportunities, and live happy, inspired lives!
This anniversary is an important reminder that we all need to continue to eliminate barriers in both the physical and online world so those with disabilities can achieve their full potential at work and in life.