Monday, July 26, 2010

Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates 20th anniversary

It was 20 years ago today that President George Bush Sr. signed the ADA into law. This groundbreaking legislation gave people with disabilities full legal equality with their non-disabled countrymen.

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employment, public services, and accommodations. It protects any individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities. This year 54 million people - 19% of the population - has a disability and are helped by this law. I could do a dance I'm so happy that this law was passed!

What has this law changed? There is better accessible transportation options, wheelchair-accessible buses and curb cuts. There is access to sign language and printed materials for deaf individuals. There is Braille in public areas, on hotel doors and elevators. And, while the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is still a staggering 75%, there are more people with disabilities in the workforce today.

Many people have benefitted from this law including those who are not disabled at all. For example, curb cuts are great for mom with babies in strollers and for children riding bicycles on the sidewalks. Closed captioning is often used on tvs in gyms so the members can exercise and follow along with a show of their choosing. These are just a couple of examples of how inclusion often benefits everyone and not only the disabled individual.

I know not everyone is happy with the speed of progress since the ADA was passed and that we have more work to do, but for today I am celebrating the people who fought so hard to get this law passed and the progress we have made toward including people of all-abilities into every aspect our society.

1 Comments from readers:

Tara Bennett said...

I LOVE this. Can we share it on kidz? I also love your new header! :)