Happy 27th Anniversary to The Americans With Disabilities Act
Today we mark an important day in history: the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA recognizes that individuals with disabilities have an equal right to participate in society. It provides freedom from discrimination in employment and the right to access places of public accommodation such as restaurants and movie theaters. A special day indeed.
Much has improved in 27 years. Steps have been eliminated. Ramps have been built. Crosswalks with technology that helps the blind are common. Glasses for captioning in movie theaters exist. Sports arenas have sufficient seating and other accommodations for the disabled. Developers are implementing universal design when building new apartments and office buildings. In short, the ability for people with disabilities to participate fully in society, both at work and at play has greatly increased.
At the same time, we are witnessing increased challenges to maintaining basic civil rights like health care and affordable housing. This is not intended to be political, but a call to action. While every disability is different, collectively we share the responsibility to fight for the rights for all. Our predecessors fought with their bodies and souls just to get an education, something that we take for granted today.
Let us celebrate achievements. But at the same time let us recommit to advocating for all. The ADA is a self-enforcing statute. Without vigorous advocacy and outreach, this important legislation will sit on the shelf. And without our voices and actions, other basic civil rights will continue to erode. We must be heard. We must work together. And we must ensure that our country is a place for all, including people with disabilities.