July is here and it’s time to publish our annual list of amazing things to do to celebrate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
But before we get to the list, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the significance of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Prior to the ADA, people with disabilities faced daily discrimination in access and participation. People with disabilities were not able to be included in the most basic daily activities like shopping, going to the bank, dining out at a restaurant, going to church, access to communication tools like closed captioning were virtually non-existent, and having the ability to enter buildings for employment was almost impossible.
The ADA is the most important civil rights legislation for people with disabilities. The ADA provided access to public transportation, public spaces, communication services to state and local government programs (think sign language interpreters when your governor makes an announcement concerning your state), and access to buildings that provided employment opportunities to elevate the independence and financial security of people with disabilities.
Over the last 32 years we have seen accessibility improve – think curb cuts, automatic doors, captioning on our televisions, voice to text, and more. The ADA enables millions of Americans to contribute to their families, their communities and society at large.
One of the greatest lessens we have learned about disability access, is that accessibility is good for everyone. Do you watch movies with the captions on? Thank the deaf and hard of hearing community. Do you listen to audiobooks? Thank the blind community as books on tape were created for them. Do you use curb cuts, ramps or automatic doors? Thank someone who has a mobility disability. Bottomline, if we design for disability then we make products and services better and easier to use for everyone. So, celebrating access and inclusion should be something we all recognize as beneficial.
Now, let’s get to our list of 32 amazing things. In 2020, for the 30th anniversary of the ADA we created a list of 30 Awesome thing to Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the ADA. This list is still valid, and we have made a few updates. It is an excellent tool to find activities as well as strategies to enhance your disability inclusion program.
Number 31: I love items that are fun and educational. So, I highly recommend watching the 2021 Oscar award winning movie CODA. This movie had everyone talking last year, and the buzz continued as lead actor Troy Kotsur won an Oscar for best supporting actor. The first time in history this award was received by a Deaf actor.
Number 32: A comprehensive educational certificate provided by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) called Employing Abilities at Work Certificate. It is a FREE seven module course that goes through the employment lifecycle and discusses best practices for including people with disabilities at each stage. The training is geared to HR professionals and participants will receive continuing education credits towards their HR certification.
Even though the training is targeted to the HR community -- hiring managers, recruiters and diversity professionals will also benefit from the training. SHRM encourages anyone with an interest in disability inclusion to take the course.
I hope everyone has a great Disability Pride Month and ADA Celebrations. Use the activities and events of this month to learn something new, educate others, and commit to 3 new things you will do this month to create greater inclusion in your workplaces.