ADA Turns 20

Wheelchair user, www.pedbikeimages.org / Dan BurdenThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has released Professor Lex Frieden’s study (an online survey of disability leaders), Impact of the ADA on Communities, a report of the status of improvements for the disabled 20 years after adoption of the American with Disabilities Act in July 1990.

The report indicates that there have been significant improvements for the disabled population. As well, the report highlights areas where more work is needed to fully implement the ADA and to enable people with disabilities to reach their goals of independence, self determination, and full participation in society.

Highlights of the report:

Achievements:

  • Two-thirds of people with disabilities who were polled in the study believe that ADA has been the most significant social, cultural or legislative influence on their lives in the past 20 years.
  • The ADA’s greatest impact has been improvements in access to public accommodations.
  • Other areas of significant agreement regarding improvement are employment, transportation, and public awareness.
  • Overall, more than 90% of the survey respondents believe that quality of life for people with disabilities in communities across America has improved greatly since passage of the ADA.

Progress still needed:

  • The biggest disappointment of the disability leaders who were surveyed is the lack of progress by people with disabilities toward reaching goals of economic independence.
  • Respondents were also disappointed in the impact of the ADA on healthcare, housing, and employment.
  • Improvements in access to public accommodations, transportation and public awareness are consistently acknowledged, but the need for further compliance is evident.

Lex Frieden is Professor of Biomedical Informatics and of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine. Frieden, who uses a wheelchair following a 1967 traffic accident in which his spinal cord was severed, helped craft the ADA, which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990.

Click to read the complete report, Impact of the ADA on Communities.

The WWBPA continues to advocate for ADA compliance in the township and issued a assessment of compliance in February 2010, concluding:

… with the notable exception of intersections and crosswalks, which have a large scope and must be addressed, despite a fairly long list, the work required to bring the Township’s facilities into ADA compliance is fairly modest. We suggest that by aggressively pursuing its statutory requirements, the Township could gain statewide prominence as a community friendly to the needs of its many disabled residents and visitors. Such action would certainly be recognized at least at the state level by government and the many organizations representing the disabled.

Click to read  the February 2010 WWBPA report.

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