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  • Writer's pictureMeg O'Connell

2020: Celebrates 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

The first in a six-part series as we get ready for the ADA Anniversary.

Happy New Year!

It’s not just a new year, but a new decade!  As usual, this time of year everyone is focused on improvement, what we want to do less of, more of, and how we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us.  Conversations are not just about what you want to achieve this year, but over the next decade. (No pressure!)

In 2020 we will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA.  We will take time to celebrate the barriers we have broken down and the progress we have made.  And we will also look ahead to what is next.


So, as we plan for the “best decade ever” what are your disability inclusion goals?  Does your company have a 2030 vision for disability inclusion? If your answer is no, you are not alone. But you should move quickly to make disability inclusion part of your strategy. 

A recent Forbes article by our friend Jonathan Kaufman, How Disability will Influence the Next Decade of Innovation and Shape the Business of the Future gets us thinking about how designing for disability is good not only for business but for product innovation and company cultures.

Yet, too few companies are looking at disability as an innovative strategy. Over the past 25 years in our work with organizations on disability inclusion, there are typically three types of companies.

No Resolutions/It’s Not Important:  It is hard to believe that with 30 years of the ADA there are still companies that do not prioritize disability inclusion, or even have disability inclusion programs.  It is not important to them, it is not on their radar and quite frankly they have “other priorities” and they “don’t have time to do disability”. We estimate about 15% of companies are here.

Just Enough or Compliant: The second type of company are those that are “doing something”; they have policies, recruiting events and employee resource groups or business resource groups for people with disabilities.  In other words, they are doing “just enough” to say they have a program.  Just enough not to get sued. Just enough to be compliant.  And just enough not to be innovative. We estimate about 80% of companies are here.

Innovative: This last type of company is in rare air. This is a company that has realized the benefits of disability inclusion go beyond diversity initiatives.  This type of company understands that disability is a competitive advantage and they leverage that advantage throughout all lines of business.  Disability drives innovation in their corporate culture, product development, customer service, advertising and marketing, community engagement and of course recruitment. We estimate less than 5% of companies are here

Check out Microsoft’s Accessibility page for examples of what we are talking about and ideas of how you can move your program forward.

So, as we start 2020, it's time for an honest assessment, where is your company today?  What type of company are you in?  And where will your company be in the next year, the next five years and at the end of the next decade? Will you be #DisabilityCompetive?

If you're not sure how to answer this question contact us for a free 30-minute consultation. Our gift to you in recognition of 30 years of the ADA.


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