Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MS Activists Attend White House Event Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

MS Activists Attending the White House ADA 20th Anniversary Celebration (left to right): Bill MacNally of Minnesota, Patrick Vanderpool of New York, Channing Barker of Oklahoma, and Jackie Jackson of New Jersey

(left to right) MS activists Channing Barker of Oklahoma, Patrick Vanderpool of New York, Shawn O'Neail, Jackie Jackson of New Jersey, Bill MacNally of Minnesota, and Shahieda DaSilva of New Jersey

On July 26, five MS activists from around the country were invited to the White House to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being signed into law. The ADA established a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities, guaranteeing equal opportunity for individuals living with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

The invited MS activists were able to hear President Obama in his remarks give due credit to the grassroots origin of the historic law, stating that “It began when Americans no longer saw their own disabilities as a barrier to their success, and set out to tear down the physical and social barriers that were.” Click here to view the full video or read the transcripts of the ceremony.

President Obama also shared his personal experience and the strength of First Lady Michelle Obama’s father, who was diagnosed with MS yet never missed a day of work and kept moving forward (viewable at approximately minute 33 of the full video). Ongoing efforts to ensure that the ADA realizes its full potential were also highlighted. These efforts include newly issued regulations from the Department of Justice protecting disability-based discrimination and requiring all new buildings to be compliant with 2010 accessibility standards; upcoming rules that will promote the accessibility of websites; and the launch of the Year of Community Living initiative to uphold the principles of the Olmstead court decision and community-based care.

The celebration ceremony concluded with President Obama signing an Executive Order that establishes the federal government as a model employer of individuals living with disabilities—with the goals of better recruitment, training, and retention.

President Obama at the ADA 20th Anniversary Celebration

MS activists Channing Barker and Patrick Vanderpool with Senator Tom Harkin (IA)

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