This July 26th marks the 30th anniversary of a landmark decision that changed the lives of people living with disabilities. Back in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act or (ADA) was passed and signed into law. It effectively prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life.
It would be a year later, August 6, 1991, that the first web page made by Tim Berner-Lee would go live. While not specifically calling out the internet at its passage, as both the ADA and technology has evolved, so has the cultural understanding of the role websites and the digital landscape play in our public lives and interactions.
Impacts of COVID-19
And how is COVID-19 impacting accessibility? One could say universally. Public health measures have highlighted the barriers present when forced to rely on technology for services. Yet the degree of challenges those barriers incur still vary widely for people with disabilities. How businesses, governments, schools, communities, and individuals have had to respond to the pandemic, may serve as an education to the broader population the long-standing challenges people with disabilities face in trying to obtain goods and services, public education, healthcare, and government assistance.
In the four years Jack McElaney has been tracking news articles and corporate trends around accessibility issues for his weekly newsletter, Accessibility in the News, some patterns come to mind. Lawsuit activity around accessibility had been on the increase entering into 2020. The coverage of accessibility stories, still not exactly mainstream, was growing in mentions. Companies were increasingly taking steps to communicate their accessibility policies, with some large corporations showing real innovation on accessibility as part of their overall inclusion policies.
Then this March a new trend emerged, COVID-19 coverage – and how it was impacting people with disabilities. Suddenly companies that may have had limited or no e-commerce were needing to find ways to engage with their customers and employees through technology.
The Future of ADA Title III and Accessibility
At Microassist, we strive to honor the role the ADA has played for individuals, businesses, and communities in promoting greater inclusion for all, we will also look ahead and what the next 30 years hold and the role technology can play in addressing marketplace and work barriers such as inaccessible websites, online videoconferencing, virtual training, mobile apps, and future technology innovations on the horizon.
As part of our year-long focus on the ADA’s 30th anniversary, Jack recently presented on the legal and accessibility impacts of COVID-19. The presentation covered a range of topics including recent ADA settlement and lawsuit activity, accessibility issues for COVID-19 websites, remote working, e-commerce and the future of ADA compliance.
You can view a recording of the full presentation below, and stay up to date on the latest trends by subscribing to Accessibility in the News.