Today the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns twenty-nine.
The ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. It was a monumental and pivotal moment in the course of history for disability rights.
In his remarks at the signing of the ADA, President Bush said:
"This historic act is the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities -- the first. Its passage has made the United States the international leader on this human rights issue. Already, leaders of several other countries, including Sweden, Japan, the Soviet Union, and all 12 members of the EEC, have announced that they hope to enact now similar legislation."
Right he was.
The ADA and web accessibility
While the ADA predated the modern web and focused on physical accessibility, it has been increasingly interpreted in recent years as applying to websites, too. The reason: the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation, and websites that are available to the public are places of public accommodation.
Until formal web accessibility standards are formalized by the Department of Justice, individuals and organizations will continue to defend their civil rights afforded them under the Americans with Disabilities Act through legal action.
So, thank you ADA
It is, of course, in large part because of the ADA that web accessibility is gaining steam and more and more companies are enabling people with disabilities to access, consume, and contribute to their digital experiences.