This month the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrated its 31st birthday. There is a lot to celebrate about ADA, including:
- Created reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in the workplace
- Accommodations for people with disabilities to public transportation
- Accessibility to recreation facilities such as parks, pools, and more
- Expanded opportunities for accessible, affordable housing
- Accommodation students with disabilities at school
But as we talked about in a post last year, although ADA has made a big difference in the life of many Americans, more work needs to be done. The world we built around driving is not working for 32% of Americans. There are children without access to a car, people whose disabilities make driving hard or not possible, and senior citizens who may no longer feel comfortable driving or are unable to continue driving. And the number impacted will increase by 2034, when older Americans will number 77 million of the U.S. population. For their sake we need to keep working on making our communities accessible and safe for all those who cannot or do not want to drive. Equity is a public health issue and here is why:
- The pandemic revealed the gap in internet accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing and visually impaired which affects access to: telehealth, working from home, access to classes online, and participating in an online community.
- Our cycling infrastructure does not adequately accommodate people with disabilities, seniors, children, and people who do not drive, to have accessible means of transportation
- People with disabilities who use mobility scooters to get to their destination still need to worry about the speed of traffic or find someone to drive them where they need to go.
- Our infrastructure needs more work to be good for people from 8 to 80 and for people with disabilities.
- Access to transportation is still an issue in many places.
- Elementary and high school students with disabilities graduation rates are lower than those of students without a disability.
Hopefully the renewed interest in improving our infrastructure will help bridge some of these gaps and improve access and equity.