There are many things that people will remember the year 2020 for, and one of them is the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As an ADA construction expert, we try to keep abreast of the latest news affecting the disabled community. This year, many incidents have opened up discussions surrounding how best to support people with disabilities. Just some of the topics implicating disability rights that have come up in the news have included:
- Challenges to the Affordable Care Act
- COVID-19 Health care rationing
- Curbside Voting
- The California Wildfires
- Police Violence Against Disabled People of Color
As we move into 2021, three key priorities should be pushed to help advance disability rights.
More Robust Enforcement of ADA Compliance
As an ADA construction expert, approximately 54% of the work we undertake is for individuals who have lost an ADA non-compliance lawsuit because their property does not meet the accessibility requirements set out by the ADA. Since its inception, the ADA has changed the expectations we have about the way buildings are constructed. Accessible doors, elevators, and ramps have become the norm rather than an unexpectedly kind gesture. However, many either don’t consider the ADA or are using guesswork to meet the requirements. There is a minimal margin of error involved when it comes to ADA building regulations, which is why you need an ADA construction expert like Protrk Construction to help with the design-build process. We also see a lot of clients who tried to create an accessible environment but did not do so per the ADA either because they cut corners or because their contractors did not have the knowledge or experience in this field. More robust enforcement of compliance with ADA regulations whenever a new building is opened would help avoid lawsuits down the line.
ADA Regulations Are Not Only in the Physical World
In addition to ensuring that an ADA construction expert handles the built world, the ADA also extends its protections to technology, making sure people with disabilities have equal access. However, the COVID-19 has highlighted huge gaps in this area. For years, people who are blind, partially sighted, deaf, or hard of hearing have struggled with some software programs, websites, and other technology. When the pandemic hit, and we had to move education, shopping, and even work to an online space for lengthy periods, it became difficult for many non-disabled people as well. That has opened up a broader conversation on how much more difficult it can be if you have a disability. Thirty years ago, we were not anywhere close to where we are now with the internet, and even with updates here and there, the ADA could use some revision in the technology area.
Disability Rights Are Civil Rights
Something that has become more apparent during the Coronavirus pandemic is that the needs of disabled people are not taken into consideration when it comes to unexpected situations and natural disasters. Looking at the California Wildfires this year, it has been reported that the fires disproportionately impacted people with mobility, communication, and sensory disabilities and that they are between two and four times more likely to die during a natural disaster. Then consider blackouts and their impact on someone relying on mechanical breathing apparatus or refrigerated medicine. The ADA offers little to no guidance on what sort of provision is to be made in situations like a natural disaster to put those with disabilities on equal footing with everyone else.
Even the COVID-19 response has highlighted how people with disabilities have been a second thought. Restaurants and bars are encouraged to put seating outside to allow social distancing and safer dining. However, this can result in a cluttered sidewalk that is difficult for a disabled person to navigate. At what point does the need to accommodate businesses during an unprecedented event like this overrule the civil rights of people with disabilities?
As 2021 approaches, the ADA certainly has a lot to take into consideration as it shapes the new disability laws for our country. As an ADA construction expert, we will be watching to see what unfolds.
Why Wait to be "Forced" into ADA Compliance. If you are a public business or public property owner, save money, lawsuits, time and headaches by being prepared and avoiding it all in the first place. It’s time to call in the ADA pros. Use Protrk, an ADA construction expert, to Get it Done Right Prior to Forced Compliance.
Call 415-813-9877 today or visit www.protrkconstruction.com for more details.