Happy Birthday to the ADA!

July 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

Tony Trott

“Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” George H.W. Bush, July 26, 1990 at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

The whole wall hasn’t tumbled down yet, and it may never completely be gone, but we have made progress over the past twenty-one years.  I am a person with a disability, so when I say “we” in the previous sentence it could certainly apply to Americans with disabilities.  However, after I typed that sentence I thought about whom that pronoun would apply to and whether or not I needed to explicitly define it.  I decided not to because every U.S. Citizen needs to realize that they are, indeed, part of and very necessary for, that progress that we have made. 

Of course, as the Americans with  Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law of empowerment and not entitlement, people with disabilities must learn how the ADA works, what it provides, and then be proactive when they need to apply it.   That last part can be tricky; the ADA can be misused a lot and those cases are the ones that get a lot of media attention.  However, the ADA, when applied properly, can, to paraphrase a quote from Chai Feldblum (Commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), ‘…can prevent wrongful and unlawful discrimination.’ 

That makes the ADA sound like one heck of a law; and it is.  There are countless people across the nation who have benefitted from it.  That can be something as simple as an employer providing voice-recognition software for an employee who does not have use of his or her hands, or a hotel providing a roll-in shower for those who need it. 

But some are surely thinking “I’m never going to need the ADA, so why should I bother with it?”  That argument really holds no water because anybody anywhere could become an individual with a disability at any time due to an accident.  Besides, following the ADA is just the right thing to do! 

Happy Birthday to the ADA!  May you continue to help people with disabilities realize their potential.

By Tony Trott, ECNV Peer Mentor & Editor

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Entry filed under: ADA. Tags: , , .

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