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What's Next for the Americans With Disabilities Act?

As we mentioned in our previous post, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) marked the 20th anniversary of its signing on Monday, July 26. When George H.W. Bush signed the law, he borrowed a line from President Ronald Reagan's speech pertaining to the fall of the Berlin wall, proclaiming, "Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down."

The ADA was passed in order to make illegal discrimination toward a person because of a disability. The law mandated that employers provide their employees with "reasonable accommodations" to do their job in spite of their disability. The ADA also mandated greater accessibility for public and commercial structures and public transportation.

Now that it has been 20 years since the law passed, many Americans across the country have been wondering where the ADA will go from here.

At an event to celebrate the anniversary Monday on the White House's South Lawn, President Obama signed an executive order to increase federal employment of individuals with disabilities. The Obama administration employs several people with disabilities.

Kareem Dale, who is legally blind, became President Obama's White House adviser on disability policy, the first person to hold the new position. Dale is interested in reevaluating the ADA and bringing it up-to-date with today's advances in technology, such as making Internet websites more universally accessible through such means as voice-recognition software.

The Justice Department is also looking into how it might update the ADA to fit more with today's technological advancements and opportunities. Among the opportunities they are looking into, include possibly mandating more accessible office equipment and furniture.

 

Sources:

ADA at 20: breakthroughs abound, but some attitudes unchanged (The Christian Science Monitor)

Americans with Disabilities Act marks 20 years (The Washington Post)