According to the US Census Bureau, in 2018, approximately 12.8% of the US population, or around 41 million people, had a disability. This percentage is probably underestimated, as it only includes individuals who reported having a disability and may not include those with undiagnosed or invisible disabilities.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on disability by state and local government entities. Title II aims to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to all services, programs, and activities provided by state and local government entities, eliminate barriers for people with disabilities, and create an inclusive society.
Title II applies to a wide range of state and local government activities, including transportation, parks, schools, and courts. It requires that state and local government entities make their programs and activities accessible to individuals with disabilities, ensure that they have an equal opportunity to vote, and more. Compliance with Title II may require making physical improvements to buildings and facilities and providing auxiliary aids and services, such as sign language interpreters or Braille materials.
Title II also requires that state and local government entities ensure that their websites and other digital resources are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This means that they must be designed and developed to be compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers, and must comply with web accessibility standards.
The Importance of Public Sector Accessibility
Accessibility is fundamental to serving the needs of citizens because it ensures that all community members have equal opportunities to utilize the services and resources provided by the government. Without accessibility, some individuals or groups may face barriers that prevent them from accessing necessary services. Accessibility is essential for a fair and well-functioning democracy.
Public sector accessibility helps to promote transparency and accountability. When citizens can access information about government operations and policies easily, they are better equipped to hold their elected officials accountable. Accessibility also helps to improve the overall efficiency of government operations, which can lead to cost savings for taxpayers.
The Consequences of Lack of Public Sector Access
When the public sector fails to provide accessible environments, programs, and services, it effectively denies specific individuals or groups the ability to fully participate in society and access the resources and opportunities that are meant to be available to all citizens. This can significantly impact the lives of those affected, including limiting their ability to receive an education, access healthcare, vote, or find employment.
The failure to provide accessible environments, programs, and services also undermines the principle of equality, which is fundamental to a fair and just society. Without accessibility, individuals with disabilities or limited mobility are at a disadvantage compared to those without these limitations. They are more likely to experience poverty, social isolation, and other adverse outcomes.
Moreover, when the public sector fails to provide accessible environments, programs, and services, it undermines citizens’ trust and confidence in government. When citizens perceive that government is not responsive to their needs or that they are not treated fairly, they are less likely to engage with government and participate in the democratic process.
In summary, a failure of the public sector to provide accessible environments, programs, and services is equivalent to a failure to serve. Therefore, government needs to ensure that all its services, programs, and environments are accessible to every citizen regardless of their abilities.
Accessible public environments, programs, and services can help to reduce the barriers that individuals with disabilities may face in their daily lives, such as difficulty accessing public transportation, navigating public buildings, or accessing information online. Providing accessible environments, programs, and services also promotes inclusion and social cohesion. When individuals with disabilities can participate fully in their communities, they are less likely to experience social isolation and exclusion.
A significant percentage of US citizens have a disability. The public sector must provide accessible environments, programs, and services to ensure that all citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in society and promote inclusion and social cohesion.