Accessible Marketing: Americans With Disabilities Act 23rd Anniversary Infographic

July 26, 2013

Accessibile Marketing: Celebrating ADA's 23rd AnniversaryToday marks the 23rd anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which was signed into law on July 26, 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people based on disability.

To honor this momentous occasion, and to continue our Accessible Marketing content series, we have created the ADA 23rd Anniversary Infographic to highlight:

  • Key facts and statistics about people living with disabilities
  • Accessibility considerations in daily life at home, at work, and on the web
  • The history and impact of accessibility legislation in the U.S.
  • Important accessibility legislation that impacts digital marketing

Celebrating the 23nd Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act 2013

Consider Accessibility When Creating Infographics

When this infographic was put together, we were careful to consider accessibility to make sure that people living with a disability could enjoy equal access to both the blog post and downloadable PDF.

    • Step 1: Design for accessibility. First, we selected colors and fonts that would maintain an appropriate color contrast ratio for people with color blindness and visual impairments.alt text for images


    • Step 2: Build your infographic with accessibility in mind. We built this document to maintain structural accessibility so that it would be compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers, including:
      • a defined the reading order with heading and paragraph tags
      • images anchored to specific text
      • alt text for images
      • tooltips to provide audio cues to screen readers
    • Step 3: Use a design tool that supports accessibility. We created the infographic design in Adobe InDesign, which allows us to create a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro while maintaining accessibility functions such as embedded text and tool tips. Adobe Acrobat also allows you to run an accessibility test on your document. If there are any accessibility errors, Acrobat informs you of those errors and gives step by step directions for correcting them.


  • Step 4: Provide your infographic in multiple formats. In addition to the .png file embedded below, you’ll notice that we included a PDF that was built to be compatible with assistive technologies. We also included the full text of the infographic at the bottom of this post so that people using a screen reader would not have to download the PDF and open it separately in order to enjoy the content.

Making this infographic and blog post accessible took a little extra time, but it makes us happy to know that our marketing messages can be experienced by everyone!
WBG_btn_tip_smlFeel free to embed the infographic on your own blog using the code at the bottom of this post.

ACCESSIBILITY NOTE: The full text of the infographic is translated below the graphic.

Infographic text included for screen readers

Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act 23nd Anniversary, 1990-2013

We are are excited to continue honoring the Americans with Disabilities Act, now celebrating its 23rd anniversary! As public perception evolves and technology advances, more attempts are being made to address inequality through accessibility legislation and standards. This updated infographic addresses recent legislation enacted to improve digital equality in the US and Canada.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Signed into law on July 26, 1990, this act is a civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. It was intended to be a flexible set of laws that could only be strengthened, not weakened, by future case law.

How the ADA Defines disability:

A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Approximately 50 million Americans are living with a disability, about 16% of the population

Age Distribution of Americans with a disability: 5-17 year olds: 5%, 18-64 year olds: 10%, 65 year olds and over:  38%

Types of Disabilities that Americans (ages 18-64) have:

3.2 million: Visual

3.4 million: Self-Care

3.9 million:Hearing

6.6 million: Independent Living

7.9 million: Cognitive

9.8 million: Ambulatory


Of people over the age of 25:13% of those with a disability have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 31% of those without a disability have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

28% of those with a disability have less than a high school education, while 12% of those without a disability have less than a high school education


The unemployment rate for people with a disability is typically twice as high as the rate of people without a disability:

Approximately 10% unemployment rate for people without a disability

Approximately 20% unemployment rate for people with a disability


There are ADA standards for accessible design, which have specific building code requirements.  For example:

    • Bedroom and bathroom on the first floor


    • Light switches no more than 48” from the floor


    • Outlets 15” above the floor


    • Clear width for a single wheelchair: 36”


  • Have a ramp for the entrance

Web Accessibility

When websites are poorly designed or built, they create barriers to people with disabilities.

Tips for making websites more accessible:

    • Making a website navigable using the keyboard improves accessibility for people with motor limitations


    • Adding alternative text to an image makes that image accessible to the blind


  • Providing the text format for audio files makes them accessible to those with a hearing disability

An estimated 90% of websites are not accessible

Studies show accessible websites have: better search results reduced maintenance cost, increased audience reach

Assistive Technology

    • Screen readers-Identify what is on the screen


    • Speech recognition-translates spoken words into text


    • Screen magnifiers-Present enlarged screen content


  • Braille translator-Translates script into braille cells

Disability Milestones

1880-National Association for the Deaf founded

1920-Disabled veterans of America and national Mental Health Association Founded

1940-National Federation of the Blind founded

1947-President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped created

1956-Social Security Act is amended so that working age people with disabilities receive income benefits

1961-American Council of the Blind founded

1968-Architectural Barriers Act passed which required that all buildings constructed, renovated, or financed by the federal government to be  physically accessible

1973-Rehabilitation Act passed****

1975-Education for all Handicapped Children Act Passed

1982-President Reagan appoints heads of National Council on Disabilities  (NCD)

1988-Senator  Lowell Weicker and Congressman Tony Coelho support NCD by sponsoring the ADA

1990-ADA is passed and becomes law

****Significant Sections of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

#501 – Federal agencies are to develop affirmative action programs for hiring, placement and advancement for persons with disabilities

#502 – Establishes the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to ensure compliance with the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and to eliminate transportation barriers and seek ways to making housing accessible

#503 – Parties contracting with the US government are required to use affirmative action to employ qualified persons with disabilities

#504 – States that “…no otherwise qualified handicapped individuals in the United States…shall solely by reason of his handicap be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Section 504 was crafted using language in the Civil Rights Act and Education Amendments Act of 1972. Section 504 became known as “The Civil Rights Law for the Handicapped.”

#508-The law applies to all Federal agencies, and requires that electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities.

2013: Section #508 Refresh: A “refresh” to Section 508 is planned for late 2013 or early 2014. This update will require government agencies to comply with WCAG 2.0 level AA standards. Technology has changed at a rapid rate over the past several years, leaving holes in accessibility standards. The refresh aims to fill in these holes with mandatory testing procedures and development tools.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilites Act (AODA)

Ontario was the first Canadian province to develop enforceable accessibility standards. Membership on the AODA Standards Development Committee is equally divided between people with disabilities and representatives from business, government, and the public sector.

There are 5 sets of standards under the AODA

    • Customer Service


    • Information and Communication


  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Design of Public Spaces

Post ADA

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), of 2010, requires telecommunications services and video content to be accessible to users with a disability.

How to make audio or video compliant with CVAA:


    • Hearing impaired: in depth captions should be visible and in sync with the multimedia


  • Vision impaired: a full text transcript which describes the media should be available


    • Hearing impaired: make content accessible to the hearing impaired through captioning


  • Vision impaired: include audio narration which contains descriptions of key elements

Infographic Designed by:

The topic of accessibility is a very broad one, and we couldn’t possibly cover everything we wanted to in this infographic. So we’re throwing it back to you! Did we miss something that absolutely should be included on an infographic about accessibility? Did we get anything wrong? We’d love to get your feedback in the comments!