July 26, 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the first comprehensive civil rights legislation addressing and granting basic accessibility needs of people with disabilities. It includes sections prohibiting employment discrimination, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.
While most of these seem like a basic right, today we take the time to celebrate the men and women who worked so hard to bring these issues to the forefront for decades.
Without the ADA, public places wouldn’t have curb cuts for wheelchair accessibility. Now because of it, so many other individuals benefit from them, such as people pushing carts and strollers.
The same holds true with captions. While the ADA didn’t specifically address captioning for television, the law, “helped bring to light the pressing need for telecommunications equality,” according to Karen Peltz Strauss in her book, A New Civil Right: Telecommunications Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans. Millions of Americans now benefit from closed captioning in addition to those who rely on it, including children learning to read, people learning English as their second language, and anyone trying to watch television in a noisy bar or gym.
July also marks the 10th anniversary of the FCC’s review of closed captioning rules, instigated by Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. (TDI) Petition for Rulemaking the previous year. These led to the FCC’s Closed Captioning Quality Report and Order, much of which went into effect this year.
Celebrations of the Americans with Disabilities Act are happening all week long. See a complete list of Americans with Disabilities commemorations here and how you can participate.