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30 years post ADA, people who use wheelchairs are still excluded

Man in Wheelchair

A new survey reveals low satisfaction with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) effectiveness; opportunity for a new, societal empathy to help give voice to those with mobility disabilities.

Thirty years ago, the ADA was signed into law, but the needs of people with mobility disabilities continue to be overlooked and unheard, according to the new BraunAbility Drive for Inclusion Report Card. In fact, only 15% of the mobility disability community surveyed are satisfied with the current effectiveness of ADA laws. And, nearly half still feel excluded from full societal participation most of the time because of their mobility disability.

The 2020 Drive for Inclusion Report Card revealed:

  • While 68 percent of the general public believe people with mobility challenges are fairly accommodated and included in most aspects of society, only 23 percent of The Driving Force agree with that statement.
  • According to The Driving Force, the No. 1 barrier to achieving inclusion is the lack of involvement of people with mobility disabilities while mobility accommodations are designed and developed.
  • 40 percent of The Driving Force believe mobility challenges are rarely considered when organizations and governments develop programs or accessibility accommodations under the category of “diversity and inclusion.”
  • The general public cited people who use wheelchairs as second only to immigrant populations in terms of marginalized groups that have the least input on decisions that impact them; less than women, aging populations, or any race or religion.
  • After having experienced restricted mobility and isolation under shelter-in-place orders, nearly 70 percent of the general population expressed having a greater willingness to understand and accommodate others who experience isolation or challenges because of a mobility disability.

Solution: Nothing About Us Without Us

Respondents from The Driving Force said the best opportunity to solve for the lack of inclusion is to simply include people with disabilities in the design and development of products or places.

“At a time when the pandemic is challenging us all to create new accommodations, and society at large is seeking heightened awareness around social justice, it’s imperative this new level of empathy extends to those with mobility disabilities,” said Staci Kroon, president of BraunAbility.

“The ADA has made tremendous strides toward advancing life-changing access and inclusion for those of us with mobility impairments, and all people with a disability,” said Sam Schmidt, a wheelchair user himself,  former IndyCar driver and member of BraunAbility’s Drive for Inclusion Advisory Board. “But we also recognize that to continue advancing access and inclusion for the next 30 years, it’s imperative that the very people who need and use the accommodations are consulted early in the process. Being part of the BraunAbility’s Driving Force is a first step in seeing this become a reality.”


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