Disability Rights: Past, Present, Future

By Betsy Beaumon, posted on

Reaffirming our commitment to the rights of people with disabilities on the ADA 30th anniversary

July 26th marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The landmark legislation affirms and protects the rights of people with disabilities in a wide range of public settings. Since the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act came into effect, American society has benefited tremendously. Curb cuts, audio cues at crosswalks, closed captioning, automatic doors, all of these innovations were implemented to increase access for people with disabilities, and as a result drove improvement for all people.

Nevertheless, there is still significant work to be done to achieve the full promise of the ADA for all, particularly in light of the unprecedented crises that we face this year. As we confront the challenges of a global pandemic and systemic racism, it is even more urgent that we advance and protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Keeping the Promise of the ADA Alive

Benetech has been committed to the rights of people with disabilities through inclusive technology since our founding, and we continue that commitment today. Here are our three goals for the next thirty years to keep the promise of the ADA alive:

  • Break down barriers to education and employment by ensuring people with disabilities are able to realize their right to education and employment, particularly in the new hybrid and remote environments of the present. Through our longstanding support of access to information in books through Bookshare and our Born Accessible initiative, we will continue to push to ensure that people with disabilities can read any book they want in ways that work for them to pursue employment, personal enjoyment, and lifelong learning. We continue to push the boundaries of current technology to implement solutions in STEM, creating opportunities for people with disabilities to achieve and succeed in the career of their choosing.
  • Ensure that all people can access the services that they need to thrive. The robust network of private, nonprofit, and government programs that make up our social safety net is difficult to navigate and easy to fall through. Increasing the quality and dissemination of information on local human services will benefit all people in a community. For people with disabilities, in particular, improving this information removes barriers to accessing the services to which they are legally entitled, and it will make it easier to connect with local advocacy organizations to find community and support.
  • Support individuals with disabilities and Disabled Persons’ Organizations across the globe fighting discrimination and advocating for rights like those guaranteed in the ADA with inclusive data tools. The human rights of people with disabilities must be respected across the globe, and enabling people with disabilities to document their experiences can help shape the implementation and enforcement of policies like the ADA on a local, national, and global level.

Join Us

Join us in our commemoration of the ADA and the ongoing journey to continue to advance and protect the rights of people with disabilities. Our ADA 30th action page highlights the ways that you can learn, share, and support.

Read Together We’ll Rise, the first in a series of perspectives from members of the Benetech community on the 30th anniversary of the ADA