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Americans With Disabilities Act 22nd Anniversary [INFOGRAPHIC]

Authored by The Whole Brain Group on July 26, 2012

ADA Infographic Featured Blog Post ImageWhy Accessibility Matters

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.  You might wonder why an Ann Arbor web design and internet marketing firm is honoring the occasion.  We have learned through many of our clients - Deque Systems, ASK Interfaces, and DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen of Ann Arbor, to name just a few, how important it is to make websites and technology accessible to all customers.

We have created the below infographic to explain why accessibility is so important - for the good of your business, your customers, and for society at large. As we mention below, 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 in the comments!

Feel free to embed the infographic on your own blog using the code at the bottom of this post!

ACCESSIBILITY NOTE: The full text of the infographic is translated below the graphic. Click here to download a large pdf version of the infographic!

Celebrating ADA's 22nd Anniversary infographic

Infographic text included for screen readers:

Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act 22nd Anniversary, 1990-2012


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.

Approximately 50 million Americans are living with a disability, about 16% of the population

Age Distribution of Americans with a disability: 5-17 year olds: 5%, 18-64 year olds: 10%, 65 year olds and over:  38%

Types of Disabilities that Americans (ages 18-64) have:

3.2 million: Visual

3.4 million: Self-Care

3.9 million:Hearing

6.6 million: Independent Living

7.9 million: Cognitive

9.8 million: Ambulatory


Of people over the age of 25:13% of those with a disability have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 31% of those without a disability have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

28% of those with a disability have less than a high school education, while 12% of those without a disability have less than a high school education


The unemployment rate for people with a disability often doubles those without a disability:

Approximately 10% unemployment rate for people without a disability

Approximately 20% unemployment rate for people with a disability


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

  • Have a ramp for the entrance
  • Bedroom and bathroom on the first floor
  • Light switches no more than 48” from the floor
  • Outlets 15” above the flooClear width for a single wheelchair: 36”
  • Clear width for a single wheelchair: 36”

Web Accessibility

When websites are poorly designed or built, they create barriers to people with disabilities

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
  • An estimated 90% of websites are not accessible


Studies show accessible websites have: better search results reduced maintenance cost, 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-National Association for the Deaf founded
  • 1920-Disabled veterans of America and national Mental Health Association Founded
  • 1940-National Federation of the Blind founded
  • 1947-President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped created
  • 1956-Social Security Act is amended so that working age people with disabilities receive income benefits
  • 1961-American Council of the Blind founded
  • 1968-Architectural Barriers Act passed which required that all buildings constructed, renovated, or financed by the federal government to be  physically accessible
  • 1973-Rehabilitation Act passed****
  • 1975-Education for all Handicapped Children Act 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

  • #501 – Federal agencies are to develop affirmative action programs for hiring, placement and advancement for persons with disabilities
  • #502 – Establishes 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
  • #503 – Parties contracting with the US government are required to use affirmative action to employ qualified persons with disabilities 
  • #504 – States that “…no otherwise qualified handicapped individuals in the United States…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 was crafted using language in the Civil Rights Act and Education Amendments Act of 1972. Section 504 became known as “The Civil Rights Law for the Handicapped.”
  • #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 2010, requires telecommunications services and video content to be accessible to users with a disability.

How to make audio or video compliant with CVAA:


  • Hearing impaired: in depth captions should be visible and in sync with the multimedia
  • Vision impaired: a full text transcript which describes the media should be available


  • Hearing impaired: make content accessible to the hearing impaired through captioning
  • Vision impaired: include audio narration which contains descriptions of key elements

Infographic Designed by: http://www.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 in the comments!

Designing for Accessibility A 5-point checklist for your website design




Topics: News, Whole Brain Blog, Web Design, Infographics, Web Accessibility, Design and Usability

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