As we near the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a question remains; just how inclusive have we truly become as a country towards those with disabilities? The answer is a complex one.
On the one hand, we’ve come remarkably far toward equal rights and acceptance of those with disabilities, from employment to transportation. However, if we are to be candid, we still have a long way to go when it comes to full social inclusion of those with disabilities.
Interestingly, as a country, the major barriers that remain toward full social inclusion are, in large part, physical. The fact is, while the ADA seeks to ensure architectural access for those who use power and manual wheelchairs, as well as scooters, access remains a barrier in both large and small cities alike. From county courthouses to mom-and-pop businesses, as little as a single step still prevents many who use mobility products from accessing businesses and services vital to full inclusion. From entering a county building to obtain a marriage license, to eating at a local restaurant, many public and private businesses still deny those with mobility needs equal access. The question then becomes, if we are to achieve full social inclusion of those who rely on mobility products, how can that occur without ensuring equal architectural access for all?