This is a transcript of an excerpt from “The ADA at 31: How Are We doing?” a Clubhouse audio discussion held on July 23, 2021.
Sharron Rush: You know if you're going to be doing a major renovation at any time, then the ADA says, okay, in the course of doing this renovation, you're going to figure out a way to make the accommodations that are needed for people with disabilities. And often, and especially when we start looking at technology access, the remedies or the the solutions can be complex.
And you can't just say that one aspect is gonna solve all problems. And that's why I think it's important as we think about this that we think about the future. We think about what are we going to do as a society going forward?
And the idea of putting the user at the center, user-centered design, so that as we start building new structures, whether they're digital structures or physical structures, we think about these things in advance so that we're not going back and trying to kludge in awkward solutions to an existing structure.
And I think that's where we are right now with Clubhouse, for example. I mean all the little tweaks that you just had to do for inviting your friend Merrill to come to your Clubhouse, and you had to have external source and you had to think about how do we manage the controls and how do we do this and how do we do that, those are all things that happen because the people who are making the structures, whether they're digital or physical structures, aren't thinking broadly.
And it's that narrow thinking about what is it to be a human being on the planet that makes these really inaccessible situations. And for me, that's the part that is almost, I mean almost unimaginable to me at this point. How can people who call themselves designers be so narrow in their thinking, so uncreative, so unimaginative that they're not thinking in the broad way of broad accommodation, making environments, whether physical or digital environments, that are welcoming and comfortable and open?
And I don't even like the word accommodate because it's like, well, now I have to accommodate to your environment because you don't think broadly enough. And I'm just, you know it's been 31 years since the ADA. So the things that have been built since then, and you know people talk about it in the digital space too, oh, it's too complex to make this stuff accessible or things like Clubhouse, like, oh we can't make this accommodation because it's too complex.
Well, I'm sorry, it's not. It's not really that complex if you think about it and plan for it and it becomes part of your central requirements. I mean if we can put a man on the moon, certainly we can put, we can make an audio application accessible to all people. And so I get really impatient.
Anthony Vasquez: [laughter]
Sharron Rush: I do.
Anthony Vasquez: Yeah.
Sharron Rush: I get very impatient with that argument and I think it's lazy thinking and I just, it's hard for me to have much regard or respect for that position. And so I'm, I guess you could count me among the impatient protest folks 'cause I feel like we've had plenty of time since the ADA was passed.
And in the case of the digital world, the WCAG guideline, the first WCAG guideline was issued the same year that Nobility was founded, which is 1999. So we've had more than 20 years of technology guidelines that are very explicit about how you make technology accessible.
So for people to say, it's too complex, it's like saying, well, I don't really know how to do my job. I'm not really good at it. So I can only do this very narrow, I can only play in this very narrow field. I can't play in the broad field of human experience.
Count me as a skeptic of that, I think they're just lazy. This is Sharron, I'm done.