The 30th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act gets closer every day! And the closer we get to July 26, the more important it is that we support the ADA and those it protects. People with disabilities face both physical and attitudinal barriers.
Whether you are a person with a disability or know someone, there are a few easy ways to be an ally for people with disabilities.
Social Media/ The Online World
There are no ADA regulations regarding social media currently. And yet, many of us wake up and possibly even fall asleep connected to social media. Take a moment to consider 57 million Americans live with a disability. Not just for those who are Blind or Deaf, that is a lot of people facing potential accessibility issues on social media. An easy way to be an ally is adding alt-text to pictures, text versions for audio-only and captions to videos. Color contrast is another often overlooked aspect of social media that, if addressed, maximizes your audience. Need another tip? Make sure your Zoom meetings have closed captioning available! Making this a habit will make accessibility a standard in your company.
Physical Barriers/ The Real World
As the country slowly begins to reopen, so increases the challenges for people with disabilities. Private accommodations like hotels or restaurants must maintain features in operable working condition. Particularly for summer, think parks and barbeques, camping sites, farmer’s markets, neighborhood concerts, restaurants and more. We are reentering public and some features of buildings might have been neglected from lack of use. Facilities and equipment must be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. Keep an eye out for potential barriers, such as trashcans limiting space in a hallway or lack of signage for anyone reading Braille. Alert staff if something seems inaccessible.
Attitudes and Awareness
A significant barrier to people with disabilities are the attitudes of others. To help that, especially during this time, help people understand the benefits of accessible design. Whether it is accessible social media, business practices or the physical world, awareness goes a long way. So, support businesses who modified their models during corona virus. Those modifications to services often help people with disabilities have equal access to their services (like carryout). Also consider supporting business making improvements in their physical space, like updating to automatic doors. If they do not provide reasonable accommodations, you can reach out to your local ADA coordinator to find a solution.
When All Else Fails…
Ask and do not assume. People with disabilities have long navigated the challenges of an able-bodied world. They are the experts! If you want to know how to help, just ask. While we cannot fix everything at once, these simple steps have a major impact. Simply by keeping your eyes peeled, you are putting yourself in the mind of someone who faces barriers daily.