25% of NYC subways stations are still not accessible. Photo by Wes Hicks on unsplash

By Jet Watling, age 11

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are 61 million people with disabilities in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many of whom have benefited from this act. 

The ADA, enacted in 1990, is a law that doesn’t allow prejudice against disabled people. There are five titles in the ADA, and each one covers a different area of life. The first title focuses on employment, which enables people with disabilities to fair employment so they have the same possibilities of getting a job as a person without disabilities would have. 

The second title focuses on public activities and the government, and forbids discrimination against people with disabilities. The third, fourth and fifth titles focus on public accommodations, communications and the ADA’s relationship with other laws.

In 2008, The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) came into law, and it made various changes that broadened and clarified the definition of “disability,” which expanded the number of people protected by the ADA. 

However, some people with disabilities in the U.S. think that many improvements could still be made, including Robby Karran, a video producer at Democracy Now! who lost the use of his legs due to polio. In an interview with IndyKids, Karran pointed out that many places still don’t comply with the ADA stipulations. “[In] the New York subway system, only 118 out of 472 stops are accessible,” said Karran. ”That is 25%.” 

The digital world has benefited many disabled people, and voice command tools such as Alexa or Siri make the internet more accessible. However, JavaScript, which is used in most websites, is not compatible with certain screen readers that help people with poor eyesight navigate websites. Neither the ADA, ADAAA or other laws require non-government-owned websites to be accessible.

Clearly the fight for equal rights for people with disabilities in the United States is not over yet. “I see [the fight] being over when we are living in a world where we don’t have to worry about going anywhere, and without worrying about getting around when we get there,” explained Karran.