Celebrating Americans with Disabilities Act

Year 2012 celebrated the 22nd Anniversary. This infographic is outdated but offers a lot of great information.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Signed into law on July 26, 1990, this act is a civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. It was intended to be a flexible set of laws that could only be strengthened, not weakened, by future case law.

How Does ADA Define disability

A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

  • 50 million Americans are living with a disability
  • 16 percent of the population
  • 5 percent of 5-17 year olds have a disability
  • 10 percent of 18-64 years olds have a disability
  • 38 percent of people over 65 have a disability

Types of disabilities

  • 3.2 million people have a visual disability
  • 3.4 million people have a disability that prevents self-care
  • 3.9 million people have a hearing disability
  • 6.6 million people have a disability that prevents independent living
  • 7.9 million people have a cognitive or mental disability
  • 9.8 million have an ambulatory or mobility disability

Education of people over the age of 25

  • 13 percent of people with a disability have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 31 percent of people without a disability have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 28 percent of people with a disability have less than a high school education
  • 12 percent of people without a disability have less than a high school education


  • 10 percent of people without a disability are unemployed
  • 20 percent of people with a disability are unemployed

The unemployment rate for people with a disability often double those with a disability


There are ADA Standards for accessible design, which have specific building code requirements.

  • Bedroom and bathroom on first floor
  • Light switches no more than 48 inches from the floor
  • Outlets are 15 inches above the floor
  • Doorways need a width of at least 36 inches for a single wheelchair
  • A ramp is required for the entrance way

Web Accessibility

When websites are poorly designed or built, they create barriers to people with disabilities. An estimated 90 percent of websites are not accessible.

Tips for making websites more accessible

  • Making a website navigable using the keyboard improves accessibility for people with motor limitations
  • Adding alternative text to an image makes that image accessible to the blind
  • Providing the text format for audio files makes them accessible to those with a hearing disability

Studies show accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs, and increased audience reach.

Assistive Technology

  • Screen readers identify what is on the screen
  • Speech recognition translates spoken words into text
  • Screen magnifiers present enlarged screen content
  • Braille translator translates script into braille cells

Disability Milestones

1880 The National Association for the Deaf is founded

1920 Disabled veterans of America and National Mental Health Association is founded

1940 National Federation of the Blind is founded

1947 President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped is created

1956 Social Security Act is amended so that working age people with disabilities receive income benefits

1961 American Council of the Blind is founded

1968 Architectural Barriers Act passed which required that all building constructed, renovated or financed by the federal government to be physically accessible

1973 Rehabilitation Act is passed

1975 Education for all Handicapped Children Act is passed

1982 President Reagan appoints heads of National Council on Disabilities (NCD)

1988 Senator Lowell Weicker and Congressman Tony Coelho support NCD by sponsoring the ADA

1990 ADA is passed and becomes law

Significant Sections of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 501 Federal agencies are to develop affirmative action programs for hiring, placement and advancement for persons with disabilities.

Section 502 Established the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to ensure compliance with the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and to eliminate transportation barriers and seek ways to making housing accessible.

Section 503 Parties contracting with the US government are required to use affirmative action to employ qualified persons with disabilities.

Section 504 States that “no otherwise qualified handicapped individuals in the US… shall solely by reason of his handicap be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”.

Section 504 became known as “The Civil Rights Law for the Handicapped”.

Section 508 The law applies to all Federal agencies, and requires that electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities.

Post ADA

The 21st century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), of 2012, requires telecommunications services and video content to be accessible to users with a disability.

How to make audio or video compliance with CVAA

  • Audio for Hearing impaired: in depth captions should be visible and in sync with the multimedia
  • Audio for visual impaired: a full text transcript which describes the media should be available
  • Video for hearing impaired: make content accessible through captioning
  • Vision impaired: include audio narration which contains descriptions of key elements

Designed by: thewholebraingroup.com

The topic of accessibility is a very broad one, and we couldn’t possibly cover everything we wanted to in this infographic. So we’re throwing it back to you! Did we miss something that absolutely should be included on an infographic about accessibility? Did we get anything wrong? We’d love to get your feedback!

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