More than 30 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, banning discrimination against people with disabilities. Despite the progress the disability community has made in the past 30 years, some people feel that more needs to be done to ensure equity for those with disabilities.
When ADA was signed in 1990, it served to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in all public and private spaces, according to the ADA National Network. ADA made it so that disability is held to the same standard as race, sex, color, age, a nation of origin, and religion.
ADA also serves to ensure that public spaces including schools, transportation, and places of employment are accessible for people with physical disabilities.
Danielle Medina, Tiktok star and disability advocate from Phoenix says discrimination against people with disabilities is a prevalent issue.
Medina mentioned having bouts of feeling unwell due to her chronic illness. She said she would have to take three weeks off of work at a time and many of her employers were unaccepting of her needing to take time away from work due to her disability.
Mai Ling Chan, a Phoenix speech and language pathologist said that many of her clients also felt that more could be done in working toward a more inclusive nation.
“It isn’t enough,” Ling Chan said. According to her, many think that ADA has helped, but it is not ubiquitous, so inaccessiblility is still a widespread problem. As the world went digital, so has inaccessibility, as many websites are difficult for people with disabilities to navigate.
Making a building accessible involves accommodations for people with physical disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, canes, and other mobility devices. Buildings must also consider folks with hearing and vision loss. Elevators and accessible parking spaces and restrooms should all be considered, as well as braille and evacuation plans for folks with disabilities, according to the National Disability Authority.
Website accessibility includes features such as image descriptions and captions. These features mainly exist to help folks with disabilities but can also be used by non-disabled people, including elderly people or people with slow internet, according to the Web Accessibility.
One major driver of ensuring web accessibility was Alan Brightman, who worked with Apple to ensure that computers were able to be used by people with disabilties, according to Ling Chan. He suggested that developers make computers so that people could use them while sitting on their hands.
Despite the drawbacks that the disability community still faces, the anniversary of ADA is still something that is widely celebrated. For example, last year, ASU held a series of events to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ADA.
During this event, ASU hosted a variety of events hosted by disability advocates at ASU and across the Phoenix metro area. Many of the individuals hosting these events have disabilities themselves.
This is the next step towards a more inclusive world, according to Ling Chan.
“We need to put more people with disabilties in leadership positions. We need to continue to spotlight people with disabilities.”