Life wouldn’t be the same for me, or anyone with a disability, if it weren’t for the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). This past Tuesday, our country celebrated the 22nd anniversary of the ADA.
On July 26, 1990, the law was signed by President George H. W. Bush to provide better access to public buildings, transportation systems and employment opportunities. Members of the disability community felt it was their civil right to have equal access to public places.
In 2009, President Barack Obama said the ADA “was a formal acknowledgment that Americans with disabilities are Americans first, and they are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everybody else: a right to belong and participate fully in the American experience; a right to dignity and respect in the workplace and beyond; the freedom to make of our lives what we will.”
The ADA allowed me to participate in a variety of college programs and services that would have been held in inaccessible locations. A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about how the College of Charleston Radio Station wasn’t accessible. With guidance from this legislation, improvements were made giving people with disabilities a chance to be a part of student media organizations.
The law also assists with employment accommodations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Office does a great job recommending the necessary equipment for people with disabilities. At my job, I can use a standard computer keyboard and mouse, but I could request adapted equipment if I needed it. Automatic buttons are on all doorways making it easier to navigate throughout the building.
Several aspects of our society have improved regarding inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and in our community. I’m excited to see the future of the ADA over the next few years.