30th Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by George H. W. Bush 30 years ago this week. The law prohibits discrimination based on disability, and while the ADA has been invaluable for the change it did enact, many institutional and cultural obstacles still remain for those living with disabilities. In this video, six Americans reflect on living with a disability today as well as the role of the ADA in their lives. Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript, click here.
The ADA is made of five major provisions. These include:
- protections for the workplace, including reasonable accommodations for disabled workers;
- protections for public services, including making public services physically accessible to people with disabilities;
- rules to make public transportation accessible to people with disabilities;
- guidance that directs businesses to make “reasonable accommodations” for clients or customers with disabilities and
- rules for ensuring communication systems, including websites and television programs that receive federal funding, accommodate disabled Americans. This includes closed captions for the hard of hearing.
Despite the benefits of the ADA, Americans with disabilities are over twice as likely to live in poverty, and 32% of working-age Americans with disabilities have jobs.
- Essential question: How did the ADA make life better for Americans with disabilities? What are some challenges Americans with disabilities still face despite the ADA?
- Look around your environment, from your home to your neighborhood to your school to the videos and sites you visit on the Internet. What accommodations for disabled people can you list?
- How do employment rights affect life outcomes for Americans with disabilities?
- What are some ways the COVID-19 pandemic affected Americans with disabilities? What might be some long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the disabled community?
- Media literacy: Sometimes in the news, guest interviews are presented as “two-way interviews” — where you hear a reporter ask a question and then hear the guest answer it. In this video, we didn’t hear the reporter asking the questions, we only heard the guests’ responses. Why do you think this format was chosen for this story? What do you think are the pros and cons of including reporters’ questions in the final version of a story?
Extension activity: The gains made through legislation such as the ADA would not have been possible without advocacy including protest by disability activists. Have students watch this NewsHour interview with two generations of disability activists. Then discuss as a class how your own school could be made more accommodating for people with disabilities.
- Use this NewsHour EXTRA lesson plan to further explore how students can engage a civic issue such as disability accommodation to help make their community better for themselves and their peers.
Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra