The Americans With Disabilities Act celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 26.
The ADA is important legislation that addresses issues critical to people with disabilities and their families.
While much progress has been made in the two and a half decades since ADA’s passage, there is still much to be done to make sure people with disabilities have equal access and the opportunities given to all other citizens.
Think about your business, home or neighborhood. How accessible is your area to people with disabilities? Are accommodations at your business accessible to all? Think about your front doors, hallways, restrooms and parking lots.
We encourage all cities, schools, hospitals, public places and businesses to do regular audits to make sure their locations are accessible to all.
Sadly, these topics are rarely heard in conversations. Rarely do lawmakers or candidates stress their ideas on how to boost accessibility and opportunity. Finding new ways to help people with disabilities needs to be top of mind.
Employers need to be mindful that they are making sure that the talent in people with disabilities is able to thrive in their workplaces. With advances in technology opening doors of opportunity for disabled workers, make sure that such people don’t fall victim to false assumptions on just how far their talent and work ethic will take them.
The unemployment rate among disabled people is high. Just 17.1 percent of people with disabilities were employed in 2014, compared with 64.6 percent of those without a disability, according to the latest figures as reported by the Associated Press.
Many disabled people have heard the words “you can’t” their entire lives. What they need to hear more of are the words “you can.”
Keep in mind, some of the people with disabilities may have received those injuries while helping to defend our country. All disabled people need to be treated with respect. But above all, those who suffered physical or mental injuries during military service deserve all the access and opportunity we can give them.
The ADA’s protections now cover an estimated 55 million Americans. Its safeguards make sure employment, state and local government facilities and services, public accommodations, telecommunications, and employment rights extend to all Americans.
But there is still much more to do.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ST. CLOUD TIMES