Today, we at UCP of Georgia recognize Independence Day For Americans With Disabilities. On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, beginning the long journey toward inclusion. The ADA provides protection from employment discrimination along with better access to goods, services and communications for people with disabilities.
As he signed the ADA into law, President Bush remarked, “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.” Over two decades later we know that, while access to physical and digital spaces has become slightly better, significant issues remain and other things like the employment of people with disabilities have not improved much. If we are to positively support and impact the achievement of a Life Without Limits for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there is still much work to be done.
Notably, the ADA was a bipartisan bill. People on both sides of the aisle supported its creation. In the late 1980s, Americans increasingly recognized the need for a civil rights law for people with disabilities. But, it took years of diverse leadership for the law to become a reality. Today, we must call on our current leaders for the same kind of cooperative governance to ensure the ADA – and the people it protects – remain strong for the future.