July 26 marks the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation and government services.
Despite two decades-plus of architectural mandates, take note as you stroll through your day Friday of the number of new shopping centers with no way for a wheelchair to roll from street to shops, restroom accommodations that seem completely impractical and store aisles difficult even for walking patrons to pass.
While cities and counties provide kneeling buses, the numbers of wheelchair riders that depend on them mean those limited spots may well be taken.
About 56 million people, including 1 in 5 women, have a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly a third of those receiving government assistance had a disability, including many (18 percent) who have difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
More than half of all people 65 and older have disabilities, and while more have hearing aids than walkers, the numbers staying in because they can’t navigate when out will only grow as baby boomers age.
About 8 percent of kids ages 15 and under have some sort of disability under the census definition. A larger number qualify for extra school services under education codes. About 10 percent of students statewide and 12 percent in Stanislaus County receive special education services -- including 180 children with orthopedic problems.