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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great Comment on the ADA

I am not into computer games. However, I do keep up with the gaming industry and play some games. I do this for two reasons: first, I need to be able to communicate with my son. In his estimation I am woefully ignorant but for an "old guy" not too bad when I play Xbox with him. Second, computer games are a fundamental part of of life for college the college students I teach. A working knowledge of computer gaming is required to effectively communicate with them. Given this, I periodically read Xbox magazine (which I dislike) and visit various gaming websites. One such website, Able Gamer, is about not just computer gaming but evaluates how accessible games are to people with a disability. I was struck by A quote I read this morning that perfectly mirrored my views about the ADA. Read the below carefully because it is spot on:

"What the ADA does is gives us a means for making and benchmarking progress over the years. Twenty years from now I hope there's no such thing as an inaccessible subway, or a job that can't be modified for a qualified person who is house-bound, or a cell phone that plays videos without captions. Right now, we in the disability community push for this, and mostly we get backlash. There has not been that significant, pivotal point where businesses and our larger society is saying, 'How dare we think we can create a product or service that is totally unusable for the disabled?" Especially if it's a technology product, because the disabled are probably the group that will reap the highest benefit from it, whether it's an e-reader or a smart phone or a video game console. We still have to change our thinking in America about disabilities. The ADA is there as a backdrop, but we still need a larger social movement or else we are going to end up trying to legislate everything we want.
An important part of equality is the recognition that people deserve real rights beyond legislative concessions. Although the letter of the law is realized, the spirit of the law, inclusion, has yet to be realized. Until that happens, the fight for people with all levels of ability continues."

Backlash--I know all about this. For the last thirty years I have heard people moan and groan about the cost of making various buildings accessible--most notably schools. This backlash is common place. Yet no one thinks about the cost of not making our social environment accessible. We people with a disability deserve rights and those rights need to be recognized and supported. This has not taken place in spite of the fact the ADA is 20 years old--a point well made in the above quote. When there is no backlash against making our social environment accessible to all and our rights, the civil rights of people with a disability, are supported, then and only then will I truly be equal to others. And imagine I read this at a gamer website. There really is hope for the future as I doubt many "old guys" are reading this material.

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