On July 26, 1990, I was honored to represent the State of Indiana when President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law at a ceremony on the south lawn of the White House. We were surrounded by supporters, members of Congress, people with disabilities, friends and loved ones as we watched our dreams become a reality.
The 19th anniversary of the ADA is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate the progress we collectively have made as a country in terms of civil rights. As with other civil rights milestones, it’s also an opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have to go.
Before the ADA, I lived in a world without curb cuts, ramps, and little economic opportunity. The ADA marked a significant turning point for people with disabilities. At the same time, it opened up new markets for businesses and other organizations in our communities. That’s why I strongly encourage people with disabilities, their families, friends and caregivers, to embrace the protections afforded to us by the ADA and become fully engaged in the process. Perhaps it’s putting a college degree to work. Or it’s advocating for community improvements. Or it’s encouraging others to support businesses that accommodate people with disabilities.
The list of how we can become involved is long, but it’s ultimately our responsibility to move ourselves forward.