The ADA at 25: Opportunities & Challenges for Disabled People

It was 25 years ago that President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA represented a massive change for American communities, including many in Upstate South Carolina.

americans with disabilities actToday, the first-ever civil rights law for people with physical and cognitive challenges serves an estimated 55 million Americans. More cities and towns have street corners with curb cuts making it accessible for people in wheelchairs. More public transportation systems have automatic lifts and ramps. Most public buildings have automatic doors. Closed captioning and hearing-assisted telephones are common, and there are more elevators and designated parking spots.

We’ve seen the greatest progress – albeit often in the form of small victories – in the transportation infrastructure and built environment.

One such project came in 2012 with South Carolina’s first floating kayak launch designed specifically for people with disabilities. Located on one acre of the 45-acre Dolly Cooper Recreation Complex in Anderson County, it allows people to transfer themselves from their wheelchairs into kayaks by themselves.

The launch facility is part of a planned 48-mile blue trail along the Saluda River. Currently, there is a nine-mile stretch of river that can be paddled before kayakers reach a dam, which requires them to get out and walk around. The greater vision will create a 127-mile ADA accessible blue trail connecting six counties.

Site Design Inc., in partnership with PMB Place Studios in Charleston, provided the final site construction documents. This included the site grading plan, construction details and specifications, and stormwater drainage and erosion control plans. Site Design also prepared all permit applications for Anderson County and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

This is just one success story, and there’s still a lot of work to be done. Too often businesses fear accommodations will be too costly, and thus improvements are not made and disabled employment remains staggering low (17.1%, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics). And yet, there’s data that counter these fears.

To learn more about the ADA, visit www.adaanniversary.org or visit www.able-sc.org for ADA news for South Carolina.

Accessibility Planning & Design

Throughout the Carolina and Georgia, we serve clients that are energized by enhancing the quality of life within their communities. Site Design can assist you with a cost-effective solution for ADA compliance. For civil engineering, surveying and landscape design services for both the public and private sectors, contact us at 864-271-0496.