Nonotuck Resource Associates Inc. is passionate about helping people with disabilities live full and vibrant lives. So we’re grateful for the positive impact the Americans with Disabilities Act has had on the lives of so many people with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 30 years ago, on July 26, 1990. The federal civil rights legislation is designed to address discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, government services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.
When he signed it into law, then-President George H.W. Bush said the legislation helped break down a wall, “one which has for too many generations separated Americans with disabilities from the freedom they could glimpse, but not grasp. Once again, we rejoice as this barrier falls proclaiming together we will not accept, we will not excuse, we will not tolerate discrimination in America.”
The most visible aspects of the ADA may be design elements like ramps into buildings and buses with lifts. But the act doesn’t just cover accessibility for physical disabilities, such as those that make walking difficult. It also covers milder physical issues, chronic illnesses and mental illnesses - any condition that limits major activities like eating, hearing, seeing or even dressing. It also covers those who have been disabled in the past, such as people who are in remission from cancer.
By prohibiting discrimination based on disabilities and requiring reasonable accommodations to make public resources more accessible, the ADA has helped people with disabilities pursue careers, travel, communicate, and participate in everyday activities like going to restaurants, movies, or hotels.
Curb cuts, ramps and wider doorways make facilities like libraries, colleges and restaurants easier to access. Educational institutions and employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities - for instance, by providing equipment that helps the visually impaired view documents, or that helps the hearing impaired participate in meetings.
On the act’s 25th anniversary in 2015, Vanita Gupta, then head of the Civil Rights Division, noted the life-changing impact of the ADA.
“The true power and promise of the ADA lies in its ability to empower individuals with disabilities to dream bigger, and to enable them to pursue their own visions of the American dream,” she said.
Despite the many positive changes the ADA has led to, Tom Ridge, chairman of the National Organization on Disability, noted recently that there is still more room for progress.
“President Bush knew that our success in the world depends on how well we inspire and put to use the talents and energies of every person in this country,” Ridge said. “It was his vision that no ability is to be wasted, and that everyone has a full and equal chance to play a part in our national progress. There is still much work left to do to see his vision fulfilled.”
Logo credit: ADA National Network (adata.org)
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.