It been 25 years this summer since President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. It has been 25 years since I accompanied a friend who was Juvenile Court Judge to a presentation he was giving in a hotel meeting room. The only way the Judge, who was a quadriplegic using a motorized wheelchair, could get to his presentation was by utilizing a loading dock and the kitchen entrance to the hotel.
We have changed much as a nation in how we accommodate our fellow citizens with disabilities. From curb cuts, to ramps, to accessible bathrooms, we have opened the front door of our society to those who had to seek a back entrance or find none at all. Former Senator Tom Harkin one of the sponsors of the ADA commented “Not one nickel or dime in the ADA is given to a person with a disability. But we broke down barriers, opened doors or accessibility and accommodation, and said to people with disabilities- Now go on, follow your dreams….
The last 25 years have seen tremendous progress in accessibility accommodations. Nonetheless there still are instances as the recent situation in Houston, Texas where a fifth grader was unable to come on an inaccessible stage to receive a graduation diploma. (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/student-in-wheelchair-overlooked-fifth-grade-graduation-houston/ ) My heart goes out to this little girl. Yet at the same time we should note 25 years ago, this would have not have been a news story. It would have been just how life was for a Judge or a fifth grader in a wheelchair.
For those of you who worked to pass the ADA 25 years ago, we thank you. You have made our country better for all of our citizens.
Please share if you have an ADA accommodation story.