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Happy Anniversary ADA!

ADA LogoPhoto of Disability Act March

What is the ADA law and how does it apply to those with vision loss?

This Thursday, July 26th will mark the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA was created to bring about “equality of opportunity, full participation in society, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” For too long, people with disabilities have struggled with full inclusion into mainstream society and the ADA was passed to even the playing field and provide more opportunity and access.

The ADA concentrates its efforts in five major areas: employment, transportation, state and local government, public accommodations and telecommunications. So now that you know a bit more about the ADA, let’s do a little quiz and see how it applies to those with vision loss.

  • Question: If a blind person wants to vote in a governmental election, but does not receive assistance at the polling location - is that covered under the ADA?
  • Answer: Yes. State and local governments must provide assistance to a blind person, whether it is to provide an absentee ballot, read voting information and/or provide an accessible voting machine.
  • Question: If a blind person boards a public bus or train and the stops are not called out loud for them to hear - is that covered under the ADA?
  • Answer: Yes. All public transportation systems are required to call out major stops along the route for those that are blind and visually-impaired.
  • Question: If a visually-impaired person is working and the company upgrades their computer system, but does not provide the accommodation for the visually-impaired person to use the new system - is that covered under the ADA?
  • Answer: Yes. A company is required to provide an accommodation to their visually-impaired employees when a new system is installed. That could be additional training on the new system or upgrading their assistive technology to access that new system.
  • Question: If a person with a guide dog is being denied entry into a restaurant, office, hotel or other place of business because of their guide dog - would that be covered under the ADA?
  • Answer: Yes. Public places are REQUIRED to allow a guide dog or service animal to enter their establishment. They can’t ask for documentation or use allergies or fear of dogs as a rationalization for lack of access.

So, how did you do? Did you get 100% or barely pass? Did you already know about the ADA or have you never heard of it? Whether you are an expert or a novice, take some time during this anniversary to educate, empower and enlighten yourself on this important and powerful piece of legislation.

Here are some resources to help:

  1. The Disability Resource Group, www.disabilityresourcegroup.org, 770-451-2340
  2. Southeast ADA Center, www.adasoutheast.org, 1-800-949-4232
  3. The ADA, www.ada.gov, 1-800-514-0301
  4. Office of Disability Employment Policy/US Department of Labor, www.dol.gov/odep, 1-866-633-7365

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