By Paul Miller, Community Inclusion Specialist
On July 26, 1990 then-President George Herbert Walker Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.The rights in the ADA were hard fought for. Justin Dart, who was on a committee exploring why people with disabilities didn’t have jobs, said there wouldn’t be work without rights. The ADA gives us rights to employment. The ADA covers transportation, state and local government, public accommodations, and commercial facilities.You may look at the ADA and think it’s a obvious right to have and it came easily, but there was a lot of effort to get the ADA passed. Besides letter writing, there was the Capital Crawl, which was a protest put on by ADAPT to help the vision of Justin Dart.
You may look at the image of the girl with cerebral palsy and have many thoughts. My thought is she, and the many others who crawled up the capitol steps, did a great thing for the disabled community by doing the crawl. The idea of the protest is key to what got Congress to vote for the ADA. A protest helps put focus on an idea and lets the legislature know the public is behind a law or an act. You might have also noticed that the ADA is part of a long line of rights fought for and there will be more in the future. The ADA gives us the avenue to fight for accessibility in court. As we celebrate the rights the ADA give, we can honor the fight the disability community had to get the ADA passed.
On July 26th you may hear about picnics, parades, and other great ways to observe the day. If you choose to celebrate in these ways You would be showing disability pride. But it isn’t your only way to honor the day. You could have a good time with friends, or remain alone, reflecting on what it means to you. There is no set way as to how to remember the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act is just one accomplishment advocacy brought about, like section 504. So whatever you do on July 26th you can know you are part of a long chain of self-advocates fighting for many rights.So be proud.