Today, Verbit joins in the celebration of 30 years of progress in access and inclusion due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Verbit team continues to innovate its tools and create new partnerships to drive accessibility forward as top priorities. Inclusion is embedded into our company culture, and our employees are driven by opportunities to help fuel inclusive environments. Our whole product is built on the idea of providing equal access to all.
Celebrating the big 3-0
30 years is a significant landmark. It offers a moment to delve into how public access has evolved, as well as a chance to identify areas where continued growth and more disability awareness are necessary.
It’s important to note that not all disabilities exist in plain sight. Many individuals, students and professionals are navigating disabilities silently and on a daily basis in all aspects of life. While many stigmas of disabilities have been broken, we are far from full acceptance and inclusion across the board.
However, physical buildings, college courses and employee training sessions are now being designed with disabilities in mind. Many companies and schools are aiming to create more opportunities for individuals with disabilities to succeed. The most successful programs happen when individuals with disabilities are provided with equal playing fields that mirror those of their peers. Accommodations can be natural and more subtle and in many cases can also be helpful tools to individuals without disabilities as well.
It’s undeniable that the past 30 years have brought about incredible progress since the ADA was first signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990. The ADA was initially created to serve as a civil rights protection for Americans with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination against the disabled in public life, which includes schools, transportation and all public and private places.
COVID-19 has awakened accessibility needs
Each summer, a variety of accessible programs, events and parades typically occur to celebrate and drive awareness for people with disabilities. However, most in-person gathering celebrations have been cancelled due to social distancing requirements. Many organizations are organizing virtual events as a result to ensure this moment receives the attention it deserves.
The crisis has spotlighted areas where strides for individuals with disabilities are being made and has identified areas which need continued improvement and education. Going virtual both in academic and professional settings is one of these identified areas.
During the pandemic, more universities and businesses are learning what is necessary to provide equal opportunities to students and professionals learning and working remotely. Conducting all communications over phone, email and web conferencing platforms has removed many of the added in-person cues that individuals with disabilities often rely on. Leaders are now exploring how to make online materials more accessible and meet the virtual needs of those navigating disabilities.
With a global shift and growing importance in providing equal opportunities to all individuals, regardless of disability, race, sexual orientation and other factors, today’s leaders are driving initiatives forward proactively. Previously, accommodations and rules were established based on individual requests, hard fought battles or to avoid potential lawsuits. Now, media networks, college campuses and employers are priding themselves in their ability to offer disability accommodations from the get-go.
COVID-19 has shed a light on areas where technology can come into play in daily life, as well as in academic and professional settings when human interactions simply cannot occur.
While the majority of individuals are struggling to acclimate to the ‘new norm,’ the challenge can be that much greater for those who have a disability, let alone those who choose not to disclose their disabilities. Individuals, schools and businesses are finding that they can now lean on technology and proactively invest in tools that help the greater good and create ease for these individuals, without forcing them to come forward when their disabilities aren’t visible per se.
On behalf of the team at Verbit, we’re excited to see what the next 30 years have in store for continued innovation and the opportunities it presents to those with disabilities. On our end, we’ll continue to expand our offerings and serve as champions for those navigating disabilities in every classroom, workplace and home whenever we are able.