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ADA@30: We Asked, You Answered

The Benetech and Bookshare communities sound off on the power and limits of the ADA

In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we invited you, the members of the Benetech and Bookshare communities, to share your perspectives on the impact that this legislation has had on your life and your vision for the future of disability rights. These firsthand accounts illustrate the power and limits of this landmark legislation.

The Impact of the ADA

The ADA (along with my university’s disabilities program) provided vital accommodations during my bachelor’s degree. These included extra time on tests and assignments, enlarged print when needed, plus others.” – Hannah, West Virginia

Before ADA, transit drivers commonly failed to announce transit stops. Now, most transit vehicles have automated, audible stop announcements. Before ADA there were no talking ATMs. Now nearly all ATMs talk. Before ADA, access was treated as an act of charity. Now it’s a right!” – Frank, California

“Before the ADA, I couldn’t enjoy going to the movies with friends. Thanks to the ADA and audio descriptions, most movies are accessible. Now I enjoy them like I did when I could see.” – Anne, Georgia

“Before I got introduced to ADA services I was hardly going out with friends and hadn’t gone to college yet because I felt bad that I needed to intervene in people’s schedules to be driven everywhere. I adjusted after a couple of years and I hang with my friends more as well as use the services to go places such as college.” – Esli, Illinois

“The ADA laws give us equal access to our society, nothing extra or special, just equal.” – Laurie, Iowa

Looking Towards the Future

“Underemployment and unemployment of people with disabilities is, for me, one of the single most disempowering features of our modern day. I believe that all organizations should be required to hire the same percentage of people with disabilities as is reflected in the population of their state.” – Breandan, New York

“In the next 30 years I would like to see it be illegal not to have an accessible route for people with wheelchairs or have a too tight space for them to fit. I would also like to see Braille on every possible place — packaging, signs, and so much more.” – Alaina, Washington

 “I want more support for accessible websites and apps. I want to not have to worry about going on a website and being afraid to because I can’t access it with my screen reader. I also don’t want to have to download an app and wonder if I can use it.” – Nesma, Maryland

“I’d like to see that they passed legislation that makes ADA federally funded because currently it’s only federally mandated. I think that if the states were allotted more money for implementation, it would be easier for them to renovate buildings so that they are more accommodating.” – Ayanda, West Virginia

“I would like to see a clear, concise, and accessible procedure for addressing and escalating ADA issues. Accountability at all levels of government for following the ADA. Consequences for entities who violate the ADA. More legal organizations who take ADA cases brought by individuals. An understanding that folks who raise ADA-related concerns aren’t just entitled complainers, but real people experiencing genuine barriers while trying to go about their everyday lives.” – Allison, Arizona

Introducing stories.benetech.org

We hoped to receive enough responses from the community to create a compilation blog, but the quantity and quality of responses that we received far surpassed our expectations. We received just shy of 100 thoughtful reflections.

To preserve and share all of these powerful reflections, we launched stories.benetech.org, a new site dedicated to highlighting the perspectives of our users. There you can find reflections on the ADA 30th anniversary, as well as Books Beloved reflections, which highlight the impact that a book can have on a person’s life, career, and outlook.

Search by name or keyword to find perspectives on the issues that you are curious about. From voting rights to healthcare, education, employment, and technology, you will find reflections of our community of software users, partners, and advisors, written in their own words.

Keep the ADA Strong for the Next 30 Years

While we celebrate the impact of the ADA today, there is more work to be done in disability rights. In celebration of the 30 years of ADA, we are raising $30,000 to protect and advance the rights of people with disabilities.

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

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