This Sunday, July 26th, marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being signed into law. The enactment of the ADA opened new doors of opportunity for people with disabilities across the country. No longer will people with disabilities worry about whether a public building, venue or transit system is accessible. We can be confident in the knowledge that protections are in place to prevent housing and workplace discrimination. We have the right and the legal standing to fight back.
Quite literally, millions of doors are now open, allowing people with disabilities to fully participate in our communities.
But since its passage, the ADA has proved to be more than just a legal instrument. Attitudes have changed, creating a more accepting and accommodating culture. Society as a whole sees their neighbors’ abilities rather than seeing their limitations. And for people with disabilities, the concept of achieving the American Dream of independent living is a reality.
But our fight isn’t over. Housing, education and employment protections are in place, but we haven’t crossed the finish line yet. Republicans fight in favor of budget cuts that slash funding for health care and lifesaving research. Our leaders need to address transportation issues that affect mobility for the disabled. And we—as a community—need to have an open and honest conversation about mental health.
Much like other civil rights movement, vigilance is the key. We cannot rest, and must continuously work to protect these crucial rights.
Join the Disability Caucus in celebrating our successes with positive thoughts of how far we’ve come, and where we can be in another 25 years.
Let’s keep moving forward,
Chair, DPG Disability Caucus