July 26, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—the landmark US legislation that galvanized our commitment to respecting and protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities.
July 26, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act—the landmark US legislation that galvanized our commitment to respecting and protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities. Over the last 30 years we have made incredible progress. But in some ways we have a long road ahead: As the world becomes more digital, new problems are revealed, but so too are a whole new suite of solutions.
“For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.”
—IBM Training Manual from 1991
When the ADA was first introduced in 1990, there was a significant amount of resistance and fear. Reform advocates had been fighting for decades against a reluctant government. The ADA, in part, required physical locations be made accessible and potential barriers be removed. Residential buildings needed to install elevators. Public buildings required ramps. Doors had to be widened, counter heights had to be lowered, bathrooms had to be reconfigured. The challenge and expense for businesses was massive and enforcing this law felt near impossible. But the work had to be done.
Thirty years later, we look at accessibility features implemented for the disabled community and say, “yeah, of course these things should be required.” Those fighting for disabled rights did the difficult work and the world is a better place for it. New buildings are constructed to accommodate everyone and the physical world is a much more inclusive place for it.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the ADA, take a look at some of our great accessibility-focused content.
The ADA in the Digital Age
The pain and resistance we felt 30 years ago is upon us again today, in the digital age. Websites, like physical structures of the past, have been constructed with little accommodation for people with disabilities. The ADA is now considered applicable to websites as “places of public accommodation” and, as such, need to be held to the same standards.
We need to widen the doors and add the ramps on approximately 2 billion live websites. The work will be hard but, again, the work needs to be done. And once it is complete, from that point forward, all newly crafted websites will be constructed to accommodate everyone, and in the digital world we will once again say: “Of course these things should be required.”
Happy Birthday, Americans with Disabilities Act.
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