WNYers reflect on 30th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act- and talk about what else needs to change

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(WIVB) – Sunday marked the 30 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being signed into law.

The law ensures that people with disabilities are protected against discrimination and provided physical accommodations.

On Sunday, Western New Yorkers reflected virtually on how far we’ve come.

But Americans still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to adapting as the world changes.

Todd Vaarwerk, Chief Policy Officer of Western New York Independent Living, says that advancing technology that we take for granted in 2020 isn’t always user-friendly.

For example, PDFs need to be created with actual text as opposed to text in an image, and the ever-increasing use of online “portals” by medical offices is another issue.

“The portals aren’t accessible- they are not navigable if you’re visually impaired or you need an alternative input strategy,” Vaarwerk said. “There are struggles with portals and that actually extends into the whole thing about electronic healthcare records.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also revealed more gaps in disability protections, including making sure Americans with disabilities are included in long-term emergency planning and cracking down on people who take advantage of the mask exemption for the small amount of people who truly can’t wear them.

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