This July marks the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disability Act in 1990. This law has been a monumental shift in how people with disabilities experience public life, affecting everything from architecture, public spaces, wayfinding, education and employment. The purpose of the ADA was to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including all places that are open to the general public. The ADA is divided into five titles that relate to different areas of public life:

  • Employment
  • State and Local Government
  • Public Accommodations
  • Telecommunications
  • Miscellaneous Provisions

The question arises, how is America different 25 years later?

The largest impact seems to be in architecture. The ADA law forever changed interior and exterior spaces bringing with it a new era of universal design and the continual efforts to make public spaces welcome for all visitors.

Employment however still has a long road to go towards universal accessibility.

Assistive Technology advances have brought employment to many with disabilities however the facts remain that the majority of people with disabilities lack gainful employment. Only one-third (32.0%) of working-age people with disabilities were employed on average in the 2010-2012 period, compared to over two-thirds (72.7%) of people without disabilities (www.dol.gov). The Department of Labor has stated that “Employment levels of people with disabilities are low, and those who are employed tend to be in low-paying occupations.”

Economic Picture of the Disability Community Project

 

Amendments to section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The employment of disabled Americans has received some help in recent years with the passing of new regulations requiring that Federal contractors be inclusive employers of people with disabilities. This new Section 503 rule creates a 7 percent hiring goal for people with disabilities in all job categories. Read More

Still, disabled Americans across the nation look for help in seeking employment. We have gathered a few regional news stories from around America that address this issue:

People with disabilities deserve the dignity of a job (Albuquerque Journal)

Marylanders with disabilities want jobs, independence (Capital Gazette)

Advancing Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities (White House Blog)

People with disabilities say ‘Our struggle is not over’

 

We would like to hear from you!

Has the ADA law affected your daily life?

What barriers still exist for people with disabilities?

Where did the ADA and ADAAA acts fall short or succeed most?

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