Twenty summers ago, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA. But who are they, these Americans with disabilities? Are they the people who work at Goodwill? The people who work at the Lighthouse for the Blind? Those who live in group homes? Those who ride ViaTrans?
Well yes, all of these and, perhaps, someone in your family, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker.
Some disabilities are visible, like mine. Some are not so obvious, like high blood pressure, diabetes, a thyroid condition, hepatitis, cancer or a history of depression, anxiety attacks or other mental illness.
Twenty percent of Americans have some type of disability. That’s one in five. So clearly that means a lot of you who are reading this have some type of disability. And even if you are temporarily nondisabled, what about your parents or grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, children?
Why do I ask? Because I want you to understand and accept the idea that when we talk about Americans with disabilities, we’re not talking about some special group out there. We’re talking about us — all of us, everyone. Because, like it or not, one day you are going to have a disability.
The South Brooklyn Legal Center is planning a lawsuit against the MTA, claiming their bus and Access-a-Ride cuts are a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and that the subway is not a viable alternative. Attorney Koert Wehberg told NY1, “A person in a wheelchair can get on any bus. Whereas, even when you can look at the MTA’s list of what they call key stations, the stations that are supposed to be accessible under the ADA, they might say they are accessible. But if the elevator is out of order, it might as well not be accessible.” And if the elevator gets stuck, well, you’re SOL.
The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed by a Democratic Congress with support from Republican Senate leader Bob Dole and signed by President George H.W. Bush, is widely regarded as a major bipartisan achievement, in the same rarefied category of near-universally admired legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain both proclaimed their support for the continuing enforcement of the ADA, which gives civil-rights protections to people with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation and government services.
But did the law, which has touched nearly every American’s life—more than 50 million Americans have disabilities, and if you’ve ever pushed a stroller through a curb cut or used a subway elevator you owe the ADA a thank-you note—actually do more harm than good? That’s the radical proposition advanced by some conservative and libertarian commentators in the wake of the ADA’s 20th anniversary last week.
What are your thoughts?
The nation commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act last week. But a number of Americans have yet to fully benefit from the law. Individuals living with disabilities are disproportionally poor, many of whom live in low-income urban areas that sometimes lack necessary services or physical accommodations. Host Michel Martin talks with disabled rights activist Bobby Coward and Deidre Davis, the first director of ADA services for retail giant Walmart.
Click through to hear the story or read the transcript: Low-Income Minorities With Disabilities See Services Disparity : NPR.
The 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was celebrated last week as we marked the progress we have made in two decades toward equal rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities in community life.
In New Hampshire, we not only looked back at our accomplishments but moved several steps forward, thanks to the work of the governor and Legislature, and of hundreds of tireless advocates.
Even as we celebrated the ADA’s anniversary, the governor signed into law three bills that protect the rights of people with disabilities. The new laws limit the use of restraint of children in schools and treatment centers, and they make hearing aids and treatment for autism more affordable.
This week, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.The ADA is a broad civil rights law designed to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and gender, the ADA seeks to ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities. It does not guarantee equal results, establish quotas or require preferences favoring individuals with disabilities over those without disabilities.
I am a person who experiences severe and persistent mental illness. I will not be cured. Although I am an advocate for recovery, I am not “in recovery” from my brain. I cannot abstain from “being bipolar” as one abstains from substance addiction behaviors. I am not defined by my illness, but it is a prism through which I experience the world. This is a fundamental part of who I am, as much as my ethnic heritage. It is a biologically based disease, like diabetes. I did not survive it, as some survive breast cancer. If I had breast cancer, I would receive substantially better health care and support services.
I never realized how much one inch made a difference in my life. As an associate professor of special education, I teach students who want to become special education teachers and work with kids with disabilities. Ironically, two years ago I was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Now I’m the one who is really learning about disability.
In the U.S. there are more than 1 million wheelchair users. Although today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, accessibility is still a big issue. And often it comes down to just one inch.
“Say it loud,
We’re disabled, and we’re proud.”
As marchers neared the balloons and white awnings outside the Silicon Valley Center for Independent Living on Saturday, shouts and cheers competed to be heard.
Red faces dripped sweat, smiles shimmered all through the crowd.
Hundreds of people marched in San Jose’s first ever West Coast Disability Pride Parade on North First Street, spreading out along a one-mile section of road closed to traffic. The event was to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and to encourage the disabled to fight for the rights the law promised.
Monday marks the 20th anniversary of Congress passing the Americans with Disabilities Act. One local group says there have been major improvements in the disabled community over the past two decades, but there’s still a long way to go.
Cheri Stuzman, born with Cerebral Palsy, has been in a wheel chair her whole life. She joined a disabilities awareness group called “ADAPT” for support. From the time she was young she learned how to do basic things for herself, but says it can still be hard to this day.
“First challenge I face every day is getting out of bed and being able to get dressed, take things like showers and toiletry for granted,” Stuzman said.
In the 20 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, the group says things have come a long way, but not nearly far enough.