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What the ADA Means Then and Now for People with Disabilities

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People walking with a wheelchair

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark civil rights statute that has broken many barriers for millions of Americans with disabilities. It has had a positive impact by ensuring equal opportunity, independence, and full participation of people with disabilities in American society.

The Past

Prior to 1988, when the first ADA was introduced to Congress, individuals with disabilities began to challenge societal barriers that excluded them from their communities. For example, parents of children with disabilities began to fight against the segregation and exclusion of their children within all aspects of daily life. People with disabilities and advocates sat in federal buildings, obstructed the movement of inaccessible buses, and marched through the streets to protest injustice. As a result of their tenacious advocacy, Congress passed the ADA in 1990.

The purpose of the ADA is to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. More specifically, it prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunication.

The Present

Despite the positive impact the ADA has had on the disability community, many individuals still face various challenges in many aspects of daily life, including a lack of access and equal opportunity within the workplace, public and private places of accommodation, and schools.

However, it is important to recognize the immense progress that has been made since the passing of the ADA. The law has ensured that people with disabilities have equal access to government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.  It has launched the process of building a more accessible world by ensuring that buildings, schools, and public spaces are equipped with ramps, elevators, and curb cuts.

The Future

The future of the ADA is one of continued progress in access, inclusion, and opportunity for people with disabilities. Easterseals is one organization that is dedicated to this mission. Prior to the passing of the ADA on July 26, 1990, Easterseals was a leading advocate for the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and actively lobbied in Washington and across the country for its adoption. After the passing of the ADA, Easterseals worked tirelessly to ensure that all people are empowered to access their rights under the ADA.

In conclusion, while there is still much work to be done to ensure full inclusion and equal opportunity for people with disabilities in all aspects of society, it is clear that the ADA has had a profound impact on breaking down barriers and promoting accessibility. As we look towards the future, we must continue to build on this progress and work towards a world where all individuals are empowered to live full and independent lives.

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