Friday, June 25, 2010

What does the ADA mean to you?

The ADA: 20 Years

- By Keith Hosey -

Hello readers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be twenty years old in July. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about this lately. What does the ADA mean to me? Well, I’m certainly not as severely disabled as many people I know, who have probably been more affected by the ADA and could probably answer this question better. So what I thought, is that I’ll take some video this year to celebrate the ADA anniversary of people I know telling their stories and how the ADA has affected their lives. Please look for that in the coming few months.

The ADA is an essential piece of civil rights protection for people of all disabilities. While many groups have had civil rights for decades, people with disabilities were not guaranteed by law equal rights and protection from discrimination until 1990 (or later depending on the provision). While I’m a romantic at heart, I know the truth is that people with disabilities still fight daily across this great nation for their rights. Not special treatment (as the argument goes sometimes), equal access, equal rights. Rosa Parks fought in the 50s and 60s for the right to sit anywhere on the bus she wanted. ADAPT fought in the 80s for the right of people with disabilities to simply be able to get on, and ride a bus.

It was a wonderful bipartisan piece of legislation that has freed millions of Americans with disabilities and hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians with disabilities to live the American dream. These laws would not have passed without Senators and Congress people who believe that equality and human dignity should triumph above all.

The ADA is no done deal. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was enacted recently because the original ADA had been weakened so much in the area of employment by the courts, the legislature felt they needed to return disability rights to the original intention of the ADA. We still struggle for our rights. Let’s not forget those who have paved the way for us to keep fighting.

But, please, share: What does the ADA mean to you?

Note: I just learned that a Center for Independent Living in California asked Google to change their doodle on July 26th to celebrate the ADA. Google replied that the ADA is "not the type of event promoted on [its] home page."

And yet Google HAS changed its Doodle to reflect the anniversary of a constructed language called "Esperanto," Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday, and the 30th anniversary of the Pac-Man video game! It is insulting to choose to celebrate a video game in lieu of a piece of civil rights legislation that has won new levels of freedom for the millions of Americans with disabilities. Please join their cause by asking Google to celebrate the ADA.

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