National Barrier Awareness Day in the United States Date in the current year: May 7, 2024

National Barrier Awareness Day in the United States National Barrier Awareness Day is observed on May 7 each year. Its main goal is to raise awareness of the barriers, both physical and metaphorical, that disabled people have to face on a daily basis.

According to statistics provided by CDC (Centers for disease Control and Prevention), as of 2021, about 61 million adults in the United States live with some type of disability, which is 26% of the country’s total adult population.

13.7% of adults have issues with mobility (serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs), 10.8% with cognition (serious difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions), 6.8% with independent living (difficulty doing errands without assistance), 5.9% with hearing (serious difficulty hearing or deafness), 4.6% with vision (serious difficulty seeing or blindness), and 3.7% with self-care (difficulty bathing or dressing). Disabilities are most common in older adults, women, and minorities.

When people hear the word “barriers”, they most commonly associate it with physical obstacles, but not all barriers people with disabilities face are physical and not all disabilities are visible. Many disabled people face healthcare, education, employment, financial, and cultural barriers that prevent them from participating fully in social life.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that prohibits discrimination based on disability came into force in 1990. It includes a wide range of both physical and mental conditions, which do not necessarily have to be permanent or severe to be considered a disability. The ADA covers employment, public entities and public transportation, public accommodation and commercial facilities, and telecommunications.

Although the ADA led to significant improvements in terms of understanding of disability in society, accessibility in the built world, and access to public services, there is still much to be done because people with disabilities still face various obstacles and barriers. Due to this, it is important to educate the general public about disabilities, especially those that are not immediately apparent (the so-called invisible disabilities), and to encourage advocacy for people with disabilities.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 7, 1986 as National Barrier Awareness Day to raise awareness of the need to remove the obstacles that people with disabilities face, as well as to recognize the outstanding achievements of many disabled Americans. Although it was a one-time proclamation, many disability awareness organizations continued to observe the day unofficially every year.

If you want to observe National Barrier Awareness Day, you can do it by showing your support and spreading the message on social media, volunteering with your favorite NGO that helps people with disability, or donating to a charity.

National Barrier Awareness Day is not the only observance that raises awareness of the struggle of disabled people and the importance of accessibility and inclusiveness. Similar observances include, for example, the Disability Day of Mourning (March 1) and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3).

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National Barrier Awareness Day in the United States, observances in the US, people with disabilities, Americans with Disabilities Act