Happy Birthday, ADA!

  • July 26, 2013
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23 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Today, United Cerebral Palsy, Life Labs, and people across the country celebrate the anniversary of the ADA with hope for what can be accomplished in the next 23 years.

At Life Labs, we focus primarily on forming partnerships and supporting those creating cutting edge assistive technology.  However, the need for assistive technology might not be as strong if the ADA not been passed in 1990.  The ADA public spaces to be accessible and prohibits discrimination based on disability, allowing more people with disabilities to work, be independent, and enjoy life without fearing injustice. The ADA can be thought of as the civil rights act for the disability community; it grants the protections and rights that the community has always deserved.

The image is of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law by President George H W Bush. The bill is signed outside, with a large fountain and some green grass in the background. President Bush sits at the center of the table signing the bill with his left hand. He is surrounded by four men in suits who look on as he signs.President George H. W. Bush signs the ADA into law in 1990 (source: gpadacenter.org)

Many celebrations have taken place over the past week to celebrate the milestone. Yesterday, eight Champions of Change who “embody the spirit of the ADA” were honored in a White House ceremony. Lydia Brown, an Autistic student at Georgetown University whose advocacy and activism certainly embody the spirit of the ADA, described the event as a recognition of past work and an acknowledgement of a responsibility to continue “…fight[ing] for a cause that’s worth believing in, worth fighting for equal rights.”

Just as the White House recognized each Champion of Change for past work with an eye to the future, we celebrate this ADA milestone with cautious optimism for the days ahead. Even following the passage of the ADA, discrimination against people with disabilities remains.  In order to fulfill the true promise of the ADA, our country must recognize that people with disabilities are equal, valuable members of society, and that regardless of race, gender, or ability, everyone is a person.  In the next 23 years of the ADA, we hope that more work will be done to promote accessbility, reduce discrimination, and ensure a life without limits for every single person.



Featured image source:  Hanna Martens, http://www.durangoherald.com

One Comment

  • Access is a civil right and so is the pursuit of happiness, which for a lot of people with disabilities is a difficult thing to achieve, which is why the ADA is so important. We all deserve the right to live a life without limits no matter what wrappers we are born in or have thrust upon us in life. But this goes beyond the modifications that the ADA has brought about, it goes to the perceptions people have about others who are different than themselves in whatever way. The key is to look beyond the exteriors of people and see the person inside. It is not so hard to do when you take the time to look into someone’s eyes and not at their wrapper. Below is a link to a music video sung by Eric Brandt. Eric is a young man with Cerebral Palsy. he is also legally blind but he has taught himself Spanish and German, performs in musical theatre and is a working DJ. As you can see in the start of this video, Eric got a chance to sing the national anthem at a White Sox game, a dream he had had for years. This came about because, one he is a talented singer and 2 and most importantly because the folks at the Sox organization were able to see beyond his wheelchair and crumpled body and they gave him a chance. This is all any of us is ever really looking for in life, just that chance to show what we can do and not what we can’t. Eric is living proof that the biggest part of the word disability is “Ability.” Go check out this song and take the time if you are compelled to leave a comment for Eric and all the Erics out there who merely ask that we stop looking at their wrappers and start looking into their eyes.


    Annivar Salgado
    Executive Producer, IMPS/UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago

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