National Barrier Awareness Day is an annual observance that takes place on May 7 to encourage people to break down obstacles responsible for preventing the social integration of persons with disabilities. The day was initiated to dissolve stigmas keeping people with disabilities from advancing in education, social life, work, and other spheres of life. The holiday was initiated by President Ronald Reagan who called upon fellow citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.
History of National Barrier Awareness Day
National Barrier Awareness Day was initiated on May 7, 1986, and was a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan. The resolution was meant to recognize the outstanding achievements of many disabled citizens and urge us to become aware of the barriers that prevent or inhibit so many Americans from participating fully in social life, as well as encourage us to help break down those barriers.
The proclamation kickstarted the day with events and programs that would contribute to removing the obstacles facing people with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on disability, affects the declaration of the day by bringing pertinent issues hindering people with disabilities to public notice. The bill was first drafted in the years following the National Barrier Awareness Day declaration and was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988 before being signed into law in 1990.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), disability cuts across five dimensions: vision, cognition, mobility, self-care, and independent living. Specific conditions that fall into this category include autism, autoimmune conditions (ex. lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, H.I.V/AIDS), blindness or poor vision, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, cancer, cardiovascular or heart disease, the deaf or hard of hearing, missing limbs or partially missing limbs, depression or anxiety, intellectual disability, nervous system conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder, P.T.S.D., schizophrenia, and many more.
National Barrier Awareness Day timeline
Reagan is born on February 6 in Tampico, Illinois.
The American National Standards Institute publishes a document that supports the enactment of policies favorable to people with disabilities.
National Barrier Awareness Day is initiated by a resolution that authorizes President Reagan to issue its proclamation.
The civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability, opening the door for opportunities for people with disabilities, is enacted.
National Barrier Awareness Day FAQs
What is considered a disability?
The modern consensus on what constitutes disability includes impairments that either physically or mentally incapacitate individuals, preventing them from engaging in significant life activities.
Why was the Americans With Disabilities Act put in place?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was enacted to prohibit discrimination based on disability.
How do I celebrate National Barrier Awareness Day?
By encouraging family and friends to reflect on how their decisions may have unknowingly been a barrier for people with disabilities at work.
How to Observe National Barrier Awareness Day
Write to suggest possible policies
To observe National Barrier Awareness Day, offer suggestions on things that could be made into a resolution or be suggested to Congress by your local congressperson. It is important to remember that things you noticed as a barrier affecting people with disabilities may not be as noticeable to others.
Volunteer to make a difference
You can also volunteer with your favorite N.G.O by making life easier for people with different forms of disability. These organizations sometimes need assistance in areas you may have expertise in, like drafting proposals and memos to public officials or running advertisements on digital platforms on their behalf to reach a wider community.
Show support on social media
One way to observe or celebrate the day is to tweet your observations of the things you consider to be barriers affecting people with disabilities using the hashtag #NationalBarrierAwarenessDay. You may even tag popular influencers and celebrities you think would appreciate and amplify your efforts.
5 Important Facts About Disability
Disability is widespread
61 million Americans suffer from some form of disability according to a report from the C.D.C.
Disabilities are common in developing countries
According to the United Nations Development Programme, 80% of people with disabilities live in a developing country.
President Roosevelt had a physical disability
The 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was physically disabled.
Children of people with disabilities are affected
According to a report by the United States Census Bureau, not only do individuals with disabilities endure disadvantages but so do their children or possibly even their grandchildren.
Southern states have the highest rate
United States Census Bureau statistics reveal Texas, Florida, Mississippi, and states along the southern coast have the highest percentage of individuals with a disability.
Why National Barrier Awareness Day is Important
It helps disabled people feel socially included
The primary purpose of National Barrier Awareness Day is social inclusion for people with disabilities in all spheres of life. An example of an area where people with disabilities may feel socially excluded is in the city-wide transit systems of some cities that still don’t offer assisted boarding.
To reflect on progress
National Barrier Awareness Day serves as a day of reflection on the progress of policies and initiatives to drive the social inclusion of persons with disabilities. It helps to provide us with the benefit of hindsight to understand the things that still need to be done.
We can identify opportunities for policy improvement
National Barrier Awareness Day helps to identify opportunities for policy improvement and even introduces policies to address newly identified barriers. By reflecting, we can identify ways of improving the current policies.
National Barrier Awareness Day dates