Disability Law Center works to keep the ADA's promises
“Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” declared President George H.W. Bush nearly three decades ago, when he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.
July 26 marks the act's 29th anniversary.
Congress’s mandate for the ADA was ambitious: prohibit discrimination, make sure that workplaces provide needed accommodations, ensure that public transportation systems are accessible and verify that public places are open to all. The purpose of the law was to guarantee people with disabilities the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
As we celebrate some of the achievements of the ADA, we still have a lot of work to do to fulfill its promise of inclusion and participation. Although people with disabilities enjoy increased opportunity to live, work and play in their communities, many businesses and governmental entities are not in full compliance; their programs and services are still not accessible to people with disabilities. Barriers still exist, and not just in employment and physical accessibility.
The goals of the ADA will not be realized if the law is not enforced. A large part of the work we do at the Disability Law Center is based on enforcing this important mandate. We work to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities in a range of work environments; to remove architectural barriers and improve mobility; to ensure that necessary aids and services are provided for people with communication disabilities and that people with disabilities have equal access in higher education. We advocate for modifying policies so that people with disabilities have equal access. Every day, we are determined to make the promise of the ADA a reality in our state.
As Justin Dart said, “the clear promise of the ADA is that all people with disabilities will be fully equal, fully productive, fully prosperous, and fully welcome participants in the mainstream. Keeping the promise of the ADA is not going to be easy.”
We know that the task is not easy, however, keeping the promise of the ADA will mean a world of difference for individuals who continue to experience discrimination and exclusion in our society. We will continue to work towards creating a society where all people are treated with equity, dignity and respect. So, this July, the birth month of the ADA, we encourage our community to recommit to truly ensuring equality for all Americans and fully realize the promises of the ADA.
Adina Zahradnikova is the executive director of the Disability Law Center. She is also a member of the CPD's Community Advisory Council.