Thursday, July 26, 2012


President George H.W. Bush signing the ADA
"I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say: Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” –President George H.W. Bush

Twenty-two years ago today, on the South Lawn of the White House, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The ADA was a groundbreaking piece of legislation that passed through Congress with strong bipartisan support.  Not only was the ADA the first comprehensive disability rights legislation for the US, but it was also  the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities around the world!

Karen Knable Jackson
The ADA set a clear and comprehensive national mandate to eliminate all discrimination against individuals with disabilities.  Have we succeeded? MS Activist Karen Knable Jackson says, “We’ve come a long way, but we need to keep growing. Curb cuts are fabulous.  But building access needs to be better. We need to have automatic plates to open doors on both entry doors and bathrooms.  We also need more ramps versus steps.”  As Karen notes, the ADA has provided a platform to increase opportunities, reduce barriers and change the perceptions of  Americans with disabilities in the community.  The principles of equality and inclusion imbedded in the ADA change the lives of Americans with disabilities. 

Since the original ADA was signed, improvements and clarifications have been made through additional legislation.  We need to keep working to ensure that the full promise of the ADA is implemented and continues to be expanded.  As Karen says, “We still have more to do. We need to keep improving on the great foundation we have. We still need to be advocating for ourselves and make people aware.” 

Twenty-two years ago the ADA was passed with the passionate determination of the disability community.  Today that community is still stronger than ever! 

1 comment:

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