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Their Voice: Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Monica Villar - Special to the Daily Herald | Jun 25, 2022

Courtesy

Monica Villar

In just two weeks, we will be celebrating our nation’s independence. As a community we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the fourth with parades, picnics, fireworks and the American flag.

I always like to take this opportunity to remind our community of another landmark date in July, where another form of independence was born. On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act. The intention of this law was to secure civil rights and eliminate discrimination for those with disabilities. At the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Bush said, “Three weeks ago we celebrated our nation’s Independence Day. Today we’re here to rejoice in and celebrate another ‘independence day,’ one that is long overdue. With today’s signing of the landmark Americans for Disabilities Act, every man, woman, and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence, and freedom.”

On that historic day, 3,000 people stood on the White House lawn to witness the President’s directive “Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” The ADA Anniversary website states it best by asserting that

“Enactment of the ADA reflects deeply held American ideals that treasure the contributions that individuals can make when free from arbitrary, unjust, or outmoded societal attitudes and practices that prevent the realization of their potential. The ADA reflects recognition that the surest path to America’s continued vitality, strength and vibrancy is through the full realization of the contributions of all of its citizens.”

The message of the Americans With Disabilities is quite simple and summarized within the preamble, which states that the law is intended “to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” This equality was intended to be seen in areas of employment, education, public assistance, telecommunications and public accommodations.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

President George H.W. Bush meets with disabled community leaders at the White House in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Americans With Disabilities Act on Aug. 11, 1989.

On behalf of all of the individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to provide the opportunities and choices to people with disabilities that make their lives more enjoyable, I wish all of you happy Independence Days!

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