Statement by ITIF President Rob Atkinson on the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
"Information technology has played an important role in helping millions of Americans with disabilities reach their potential and more fully enjoy life. Fortunately, we are just getting started. From GPS with audio prompts that help disabled people navigate, to IT-enabled artificial retinas that are restoring and improving vision to IT-powered artificial limbs, IT is at the center of giving new abilities to more and more people. Our main challenge is to bring these technologies to more people."
"The spirit of ADA is to expand opportunities to participate in and contribute to society. On this 20th anniversary of the ADA, we should also celebrate the spirit of innovation and encourage the development of technological advances that can contribute to making the very idea of disability obsolete."
"Congress should look to policies that enable and support the kinds of innovations that lead to better quality of life for individuals with disabilities and work to address accessibility issues for existing and emerging technology such as the Internet, video and smart phones."
ITIF catalogued the many ways IT has helped people with disabilities in its report Digital Quality of Life in 2008. In a report released this year, Embracing the Self-Service Economy, ITIF cited examples where self-service kiosks, on-line shopping and other innovations are creating new options for disabled people.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush following its passage in the House by a vote of 277-28 and in the Senate by a vote of 91-6. The law bars discrimination against people with disabilities and requires businesses and governments to make accommodations accessible to people with disabilities. Congress is currently considering the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (H.R. 3101), authored by Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), which is intended to increase the accessibility of critical services and technologies.