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A look at the Americans With Disabilities Act on its 20th anniversary

How effective has the Americans With Disabilities Act been in its first 20 years of meeting the needs of the disabled?

Ada-2010-weblogo Opinions vary. Some say the law was an innovative political compromise that left enforcement up to individuals who file lawsuits rather than regulations. Others say the promise of the ADA hasn’t been achieved and significantly more needs to be done to help those with disabilities.

In an executive order marking the anniversary, President Obama set as a goal the hiring of more federal employees with disabilities. Training programs also will be provided. Obama said Americans with disabilities are underrepresented in the federal workforce.

About 54 million Americans are living with a disability.

What are the strengths of the ADA?
  • The ADA protects people with disabilities against discrimination in employment and access to public entities, accommodations, and telecommunications.
  • Americans with disabilities are gaining access to the Internet and all the information and sites that can help them there.
  • New accessible design standards have just been established for recreational facilities, including swimming pools, playgrounds, golf courses, amusement rides, recreational boating facilities, exercise machines and equipment, miniature golf courses, and fishing piers; as well as for public facilities as courthouses, jails, and prisons.
What are weaknesses of the ADA?
  • Extensive upgrading is needed of an aging infrastructure put in place before the ADA came into being. 
  • Even though information technologies and other technologies have provided new levels of access for people with disabilities, access to the Internet needs to be improved for the disabled.
Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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