Americans with Disabilities Act marks 20 years
And as the nation marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Justice Department is exploring how the law could apply more to Web sites, movie theaters, office furniture and equipment, and 9-1-1 call centers.
The White House on Monday is scheduled to hold an afternoon event commemorating passage of the far-reaching measure that mandated greater access for disabled Americans to structures and public transportation and the workplace.
(Despite progress in the last two decades, what still needs to be done when it comes to accessibility for the disabled? We welcome your thoughts in the comments section below and will post some of the best responses later.)
Kareem Dale, President Obama's White House adviser on disability policy, said advances in technology make revisiting the law a necessity.
"When ADA was passed in 1990, the Web wasn't what it is now and technology wasn't what it is now," Dale said during an interview on Friday. "The ADA and the law have to pick up with technology."
Dale, who is legally blind, noted that he's unable to type in passwords or use certain authentication software on Web sites. But adding voice-recognition software might help, he said.
The Justice Department also wants to make it easier for 9-1-1 call centers to accept text or video messages from disabled people and to find ways for movie theaters to offer movies with closed captioning. It may also consider mandating the use of more accessible office equipment and furniture, including accessible medical exam tables, chairs and scales and “talking” ATMs.
"Our goal is to help level the playing field with disabilities to ensure that everyone has an opportunity," Dale said. A graduate of the University of Illinois law school, he first met President Obama in 1998 when he invited the then-state senator to speak to the school's Black Law Students Association. He joined Obama's presidential campaign in 2008 as an adviser on disability policy and later became the first White House official to hold such a position.
He's one of several disabled people who hold positions in the Obama administration: Deputy Director Christine Griffin at the Office of Personnel Management, Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the State Department's Judy Heumann are three wheelchair-bound, while Kathy Martinez, who is blind, serves as the Labor Department's assistant secretary for disability employment policy.
Integrating disability policy and disabled people into the administration's ongoing work helps keep the issue alive beyond today's anniversary, Dale said.
"It's been a sea change in 20 years, but we're not done," he said.
A reminder of our question: Despite progress in the last two decades, what still needs to be done when it comes to accessibility for the disabled?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below
• ADA at 20 years chat: Join the head of the American Association of People with Disabilities at 12:15 p.m. ET for a live discussion of the 20th anniversary.
• Unbuckling the Beltway: Colleague and cubical-mate Alec MacGillis penned a smart essay for Sunday Outlook asking whether we should disperse government operations more broadly across the country. "Such a move would spread more evenly the benefits of federal employment (and its contractor hangers-on). It would make the federal bureaucracy more attuned to regional issues. And it just might help dissipate some of the anti-Washington venom that's coursing through the country," he writes. Join Alec for a discussion about his essay today at Noon ET.
• Cabinet and Staff News: White House chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel says President Obama plans to review regulatory decisions. Vice President Biden visits national parks this week. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has unfinished business in Asia. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urges ending tax cuts for the wealthy. Tom Vilsack had last week's Worst Week in Washington. Laughter and regret mark Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's retirement ceremony. New round of executive compensation "ill-advised," but not illegal says Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg. Staffer John Walsh named acting comptroller of currency, replacing John Dugan. George W. Bush's unpopularity begins to fade. The Supreme Court is more conservative under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts. Losing a game of phone tag at the White House.
• Leaked files lay bare war in Afghanistan: The more than 92,000 classified documents -- most of which consist of low-level field reports -- represent one of the largest single disclosures of such information in U.S. history.
• 20 years of problems at Arlington Cemetery: Now even the burial sites of Supreme Court justices are being questioned.
• Taliban, Afghan officials say one of two missing U.S. service members is dead: NATO officials have not confirmed the reports and still characterize the two men as missing since they drove off from their Kabul base Friday.
• Probe links 20 defense workers to online child pornography: The Defense Department's inspector general's office released a 94-page report that says some of those involved possessed top-secret security clearances.
• In Afghanistan, why does counterinsurgency work in some places but not others?: In Marja, the distance from here to success is only 15 miles.
• Veto likely on bills blocking EPA regs: Coal-state Democrats are trying to limit the federal government’s ability to control greenhouse gases from power plants.
• FDA reports problems at Johnson & Johnson plant in Pennsylvania: The facility in Lancaster, Pa., is the third company plant to be flagged this year by the agency for serious manufacturing defects -- an unusual number for a single company.
• Lawrence Prior's move to BAE signals changes for defense contractors: The hire reflects broader changes within major defense contractors such that are increasingly looking beyond combat vehicles and aircraft and redoubling their efforts in anticipation of a shrinking defense budget.
• Federal Register relaunching Web site to make it easier to navigate: The Obama administration relaunches the Web site of the government's official newsletter to boost participation and audience.
• Federal IT tracking Web site often inaccurate, report finds: The Government Accountability Office says a new Web site the Office of Management and Budget has established to track federal information technology investments does not always provide accurate data.
• Federal budget deficit to exceed $1.4 trillion in 2010 and 2011: Contrary to official projections, the budget gap will not begin to narrow much in 2011, because of an unexpectedly big drop in tax receipts.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
• Deportation of illegal immigrants increases under Obama administration: The effort is part of President Obama's larger project "to make our national laws actually work," as he said recently.
• As federal panel probes oil spill, picture emerges of a series of iffy decisions: If there is no smoking gun in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it is because there is smoke coming from so many places.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS:
• Medical marijuana to be OK in some VA clinics: Patients treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics will be able to use medical marijuana in the 14 states where it's legal, according to new federal guidelines.
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