Every July 26, the disability community should celebrate because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA provides accessibility for individuals with disabilities by providing opportunities for employment, access to public services and public buildings, and the ability to communicate via telephone. This bill provides opportunities and accessibility for millions of Americans with disabilities. Additionally, the bill provides hope for a better way. With the ADA, a foundation was laid for future generations to build upon.
Unfortunately, the ADA signed into law 28 years ago was the last major piece of legislation protecting the rights of those with disabilities. It is time for this generation to step up and stand on the shoulders of those who fought for the ADA. Much of the ADA provides guarantees for physical access to public buildings—and that is needed—but what about access to private businesses or, more importantly, what about access to faith communities?
Sadly, when the ADA was passed in 1990, one of the first groups to step up and request exemption from complying with the new legislation were faith communities. As a result, many faith communities continue to not welcome those with disabilities. Admittedly, faith communities are beginning to respond, but providing accessibility for those with disabilities is not a priority, which is mind boggling because the largest unchurched segment of the population in the world is the disability community. Perhaps churches could address the declines in their attendance by being intentional about reaching out to the disability community?
In addition to faith communities, many private businesses remain inaccessible for those with disabilities. The ADA only applies to public buildings, such as government buildings or courthouses. It pains me to hear stories of those with disabilities not being able to enjoy recreational facilities or go to a restaurant because of inaccessibility. Most private businesses do have handicap parking or wheelchair ramps, but accessibility goes beyond parking and ramps. Accessibility includes options for seating, ordering with assistance, and access to bathrooms. I wonder what would happen if there were an app that provided current information on the willingness of private businesses to be accessible to those with disabilities.
Equally important to accessibility to faith communities and private businesses, people with disabilities need transportation options. There have been far too many stories about Uber and Lyft drivers refusing to transport those with disabilities. Sadly, these same stories are often heard in regards to public transportation. Is the responsibility of transporting those with disabilities supposed to fall only on parents or loved ones? It should not because transportation is available for other members of society, so why not those with disabilities? There should be public and private opportunities for those with disabilities to be transported between their homes to doctor appointments and other places. Why does the disability community have minimal options to meet their transportation needs? Is it because nobody wants us around?
Time for a Change
Twenty-eight years ago, a defining piece of legislation was signed into law. It is time for a new generation of leaders to step up and build upon the ADA. SNs360 is committed to moving forward and redefining our communities because our communities are seriously lacking in one critical component … love.