ADA: Celebrate 26 Years on the 26th! (Part 2)

July 26th marks the 26th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the historic civil rights law that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.  In our previous blog post we highlighted research from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) related to Title I under the ADA—Employment.  In Part 2 of celebrating 26 years of the ADA we focus on research related to Title III—Public Accommodations.

Title III of the ADA covers on access to public and private facilities, including transportation and, most recently, the virtual world. Research and development in this area can focus on universal design in architecture, public and private transportation systems, and visitability in the physical and most recently the virtual world.  Universal design (UD), also referred to as inclusive design, was first coined by Ronald L. Mace and describes the concept of designing all products and built environments to be aesthetic, as well as usable and accessible to all individuals regardless of their age and/or ability.  A brief history of UD and its foundations in early civil and disability rights legislation is available through the RL Mace Universal Design Institute.

For over 30 years, NIDILRR has funded over 300 projects related to UD and accessibility.  There are currently 38 NIDILRR-funded projects related to UD and accessibility. Here’s a small sample of these projects and the wealth of resources they produce:

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Universal Design and the Built Environment through the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) at The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo has been working to make safer, accessible environments for people with disabilities since its creation in 2005.  In its current incarnation, the RERC on Universal Design and the Built Environment uses a knowledge-to-action model to advance accessibility and UD in the four domains of the built environment:  Housing, commercial and public buildings, community infrastructure, and transportation.  There are currently 24 documents available in our collection, 11 are available in full-text.  The RERC on Universal Design and the Built Environment in partnership with IDeA maintains, serving as a central portal for all things UD and including information and resources on training, organizations, and events related to UD.  The IDeA Center provides resources and technical expertise from ADA consulting to continuing education with online courses in UD.

The RERC on Physical Access and Transportation (RERC-APT) at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute provides information and resources that empower consumers, manufacturers, and service providers in the area of design and evaluation of accessible transportation, equipment, information services, and physical environments.  Under its previous incarnation, RERC-APT produced a wealth of articles, factsheets, and papers, 27 of which are available in full-text through NARIC.  Under its current grant cycle, there are six documents available of which four are available in full-text.  Additionally, RERC-APT developed and produced a crowd-powered smartphone application, Tiramisu that allows transit riders’ access to crowd-sharing information in real-time on local bus schedules, availability of seating/accessibility, and reported transit issues.  The RERC-APT is a partnership between the Robotics Institute and the IDeA Center SUNY at Buffalo.

There are currently three NIDILRR-funded projects taking universal design and accessibility to the next level within the areas of cloud and web systems, universal interfaces and technology access, and wireless technologies.  The Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project on Inclusive Cloud and Web Computing researches and develops methods to enable software providers to easily and rapidly implement inclusive user experiences so that consumers are empowered and may participate fully in cloud and web systems.  There are currently 10 documents related to this project available for document delivery in our collection.  The RERC on Universal Interface and Information Technology (IT) Access through the Trace Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in collaboration with Raising the Floor consortium, is developing a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) to ensure individuals who face accessibility barriers due to disability, literacy, digital literacy, or age—regardless of economic resources—can access the Internet and all its information, communities, and services for education, employment, daily living, civic participation, health, and safety.  There are currently 13 documents available in our collection related to this project and available for document delivery.  Finally, funded since 2001, the RERC for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC) has been a leading source for information on and solutions for accessibility and usability of mobile wireless products and services for people with disabilities. There are currently 61 documents available in our collection, 40 are available in full-text.  The Wireless RERC produces two newsletters one for industry and consumer stakeholders, and the other that highlights technology and disability policy.  The Wireless RERC website houses their papers, policy filings, presentations, and reports; and provides the latest news on their legislative and project activities.

These projects, among others, offer a wide array of resources for both consumers, researchers, web developers, designers (physical and virtual), and policy makers. Explore the NIDILRR Program Database to learn more about the grantee community.

About cgraves34

Media Specialist for the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) through Administration for Community Living (ACL) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
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