25th Anniversary Of The A.D.A.

The 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was July 26th, 2015. The Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) is a landmark piece of legislation that resulted from decades of work by advocates, the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, and the Independent Living Movement in the 1970’s. Because of the A.D.A., individuals with disabilities are guaranteed their right to equal access and opportunity in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, government services, and telecommunications.
In honor of this anniversary, we listed 25 Reasons to Celebrate the A.D.A.!

  1. The struggle for the passage of the ADA shows the determination and courage of the disability community. http://s.si.edu/1HVOZlY
  2. The ADA was the legal basis for arguing that there should be no limits placed on people with disabilities. But it is everyday people, living their lives, that makes the ADA a reality. http://huff.to/1OkelPI
  3. The idea that a person with a disability should have the right to live independently and become a contributing member of society has been strengthened by the ADA. http://huff.to/1Dl6haQ
  4. The ADA makes it easier for people with hidden disabilities to publically claim their disability. In a society where up to to 70% of all people with a disability can be characterized as having a non-visible disability, having more people willing to claim their disability immeasurable strengthens the entire disability community.
  5. The ADA empowers individuals to organize and advocate for change—often resulting in dramatic breakthroughs for people with disabilities seeking to live an independent life. http://huff.to/1fQzSUL
  6. Many jobs that were thought to be impossible for people with disabilities to work are open to all, thanks to both technology and the ADA. http://huff.to/1e52aJw
  7. IRS tax breaks – Here are tax credits available to small business owners to help defray the cost of work needed to comply with the ADA and remove barriers that will enable employees with disabilities to work—both physical environment and reasonable accommodations such as hiring interpreters or printing Braille materials. http://bit.ly/1CG6Z7X
  8. Accessible parking spots – There is a whole technical explanation for how accessible parking spaces should be structured, how wide, have striped access aisles, visible vertical signs etc. But all you really need to know is how these folks in Brazil greeted a non-disabled driver parking in an accessible spot: http://bit.ly/1CJEi9Z
  9. Voice recognition software – At the same time that text-based communications have become an everyday phenomenon, and vastly improved the lives of people with hearing disabilities, audio communications have had a major impact on the lives of people with visual disabilities. Voice recognition software have allowed the boom in smart phones and laptop computers to reach people with disabilities. “Siri—how can I celebrate the ADA?” http://bit.ly/1M8Kv2n
  10. Audio Books – Audio books are among the many technologies that originally were thought to have limited application for people with disabilities, but have since crossed over to mainstream popularity. The original audiobook companies were geared toward people with (and schools for) visual disabilities. However, as the formats have changed from record to cassette to CD and now MP3, more and more people—regardless of visual ability—take advantage of an almost unlimited number of books, magazines, podcasts etc.
  11. Reasonable accommodation – Employment of people with disabilities has been immeasurably improved by the theory of reasonable accommodation– any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. Accommodations are considered on a case-by-case basis and allow small and innovative changes to expand the opportunities for employment.http://1.usa.gov/1TAEP2e
  12. Mainstream education – Access to education was guaranteed to people with disabilities through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act—passed into law in 1973. This act protects all people with disabilities from any discrimination by programs receiving federal funding—including public schools. http://bit.ly/1RwVPJf The ADA extended this protection to private as well as public agencies and institutions. What we have seen in the years since is an expansion in the concept of mainstreaming students with disabilities in our schools—the expectation that wherever possible children with disabilities will be educated alongside their peers that do not have disabilities.
  13. The boom in adaptive sports for people with disabilities – For too many years, a person with a disability, especially those with mobility impairments, was presumed to be unable to participate in sports. That notion is a thing of the past. It is hard to find a sport that doesn’t have an adaptive corollary for people with disabilities: wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby (also known as “Murderball” after the popular documentary film about the U.S. national team), sled hockey, power soccer. It’s not just competitive team sports either. Individual sports such as skiing, tennis, cycling and horseback riding are all activities that are enjoyed by people with disabilities. ARISE Independent Living Center has run its popular ARISE and Ski program for many years (www.ariseandski.org) and now offers horseback riding and adaptive cycling at its ARISE at the Farm facility in Madison County (www.ariseatthefarm.org). http://videos.syracuse.com/…/arise_and_ski_at_toggenburg.ht…
  14. Widespread acceptance of service animals – Under the ADA, service animals that assist people with disabilities—physical, sensory or psychiatric—are allowed to have their animals accompany them in places where the public is normally allowed to go. All public businesses and agencies are required to let the animals into their facilities (including transportation services) as long as the animals are leashed and are kept under control by their ownerThe kinds of services provided by animals for people with disabilities have expanded greatly in the past several years—moving beyond the traditional guide dog for people with visual impairment: http://bit.ly/1UADDgJ. Service animals are now trained to detect the onset of seizures, help calm anxieties and perform physical chores.One change has limited the scope of service animals—a 2010 federal rule now limits the definition of service animals protected under the ADA to just dogs and miniature horses. While other animals may be used to assist people with disabilities, they will not be allowed public access under the ADA.
  15. Accessible Voting Machines – For decades, a voting machine was a large stall with a curtain that closed behind you when you pushed a heavy lever. Then you flicked little levers in front of you to select your vote—and when you pulled the heavy lever with lots of tension to open the curtain, your vote was registered. Well, that was how you voted if you had the physical strength to open and close the curtain, the height to reach the levers, the physical dexterity to manipulate the levers, and the visual ability to determine if you were voting accurately. If you lacked any of these, the traditional voting booth did not allow people with disabilities to vote independently. The alternatives were using an assistant or an absentee ballot. After the national disaster in the 2000 Presidential Elections, the federal government acted to create better voting systems for American elections. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) cited the ADA and required all new machines to allow for independent voting by people with disabilities. New York was the last of the 50 states to comply with HAVA—but now features a ballot marking device that allows voters with disabilities to create a written paper ballot—and then all those ballots are scanned by a machine that tabulates the votes. HAVA regulations apply only to elections that receive federal funding—most elections—but not school district budget votes and local town and village elections. New York State passed a law banning the use of the old lever machines in local elections—but every year passed a one year extension postponing the end of the lever machines. We are happy to note that no bill passed the NY State legislature this year to extend the life of the lever machines. Starting January 1, 2016, ALL New York elections must be conducted on accessible voting machines!
  16. The A.D.A. continues to help people with disabilities gain their freedom – The best example of this was the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. (527 U.S. 581): http://bit.ly/1ClixNM. The Court ruled that the A.D.A. prohibits the segregation of people with disabilities in institutions. Forcing people with disabilities to live in nursing homes or other medical institutions against their will is discrimination, depriving people of family relations, social contacts, work, educational advancement and cultural enrichment. The Court went on to rule that public entities must “administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.” The L.C. in the case is Lois Curtis, who fought to be freed from a psychiatric hospital in Georgia and placed in a community setting. Ms. Clark had lived in institutions since she was 13 years old, but after winning her case, she lives in her own home, participates in community events and has become an accomplished artist. She even met with President Barack Obama and presented him with one of her paintings:http://1.usa.gov/1JQsrqr
  17. Title 4 of ADA requires accessibility in telecommunications – Modern internet technology companies seem to be taking this to heart. Check out this interesting interview with the software designers at Google that are responsible for making sure that software applications are also accessible: http://bit.ly/1GOp67R It’s not only important from a social justice standpoint, it’s also good business to not leave up to a billion customers worldwide unable to access your products.
  18. The ADA was the end result of 70 years of disability rights organizing – AND that work has not stopped in the 25 years since passage.Check out this amazingly detailed timeline from the U.S. Department of Labor that details all the efforts to enable people with disabilities to fully participate in our society—both before and after the passage of the ADA!http://1.usa.gov/1LIbHEM
  19. On July 4th, 2015, America celebrated 239 years of independence. Later in the month, our country marked another historic moment: the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law passed on July 26, 1990, that guarantees certain rights — and increased independence — to our compatriots with physical and intellectual disabilities. Check out this article celebrating Independence Day for Americans with Disabilities: http://n.pr/1Hv7Kkk
  20. The need for accessibility doesn’t get more basic than allowing people with disabilities to safely cross the street and travel throughout their community – either in a wheelchair or as a pedestrian. The basic tool to allow people with disabilities to get off the sidewalk and cross a street is popularly known as the curb cut. The first documented curb cuts were in Kalamazoo, MI in the 1940’s: http://bit.ly/1H00E5N. In the 1970’s, activists in Berkeley, CA were the first to make an explicit demand for the cuts as a part of the disability rights movement:http://bit.ly/1ItqFwETitle 2 of the ADA decisively ended the argument about the necessity of curb cuts: http://1.usa.gov/1ItqHoc. The ADA now requires local and state governments to provide cuts (and more accurately referred to them as curb ramps) at pedestrian crossings and at public transportation stops where walkways intersect a curb. To comply with ADA requirements, the curb ramps provided must meet specific standards for width, slope, cross slope, placement, and other features. All curb ramps built since 2001 must also use the tactile detectable warning strips to better able people with visual disabilities to determine where a curb ramp is located: http://bit.ly/1GOkiPL
  21. Employees with disabilities are protected by ADA from discrimination. Employers cannot inquire about a disability during the hiring process. http://1.usa.gov/1GMNwi9
  22. Fair Access for the Deaf provides interpreting for most of the events at the annual New York State Fair, including concerts. http://bit.ly/1HvRpxu
  23. Newly constructed buildings open to the public must be made accessible and the existing public spaces are required to be retrofitted for access where possible. http://bit.ly/1LAD7LX
  24. Closed caption glasses at Regal Cinemas allow deaf movie goers to enjoy watching movies in theaters.
  25. Lifts on all Centro buses make it possible for passengers with disabilities to take public transit. http://bit.ly/1Cyyfj4

For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, read this article by Michael Theobald and visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CNYADA.