Today we celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilites Act! The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by former President George H.W. Bush. It built upon the protections afforded by the previously-signed Civil Rights Act of 1964. It contains five Titles, that cover employment, public entities (including public transportation), public accommodations & commercial facilities (within this title are provisions for service animals and auxiliary aids), telecommunications, and miscellaneous provisions.
The ADA did not come into existence easily; many years of hard work by disability rights activists led to its becoming law. One of the most iconic moments of the protests prior to the ADA being enacted is when news crews captured young activist Jennifer Keelan getting out of her wheelchair to crawl up the steps of the United States Capitol Building, a defiant demonstration of inaccessibility. In doing so, Jennifer showed that not only was the building itself inaccessible, but it served as a tremendous metaphor for government & the country being inaccessible to people who have disabilities. The video below is a brief clip of Jennifer’s memorable part in the “Capitol Crawl”:
But we must remember that the ADA was just the beginning. It laid the groundwork for more and more changes, legislation and action; there is still a long way to go. At NWGA Center for Independent Living, we work towards a user-friendly world of universal design each day. We hope that you can join us as we continue the work; here’s to a future that is accessible to all!