Celebrating 25 years of the ADA

At the end of this month, we’ll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A few years ago, I watched this great documentary on the fight for ADA called Lives Worth Living. That PBS link contains not only the trailer, but more information about the film and an interactive timeline of the ADA.

This documentary really hit me hard. I didn’t realize the magnitude of what people had gone through to secure rights that, honestly, are either not well known about or not well enforced or used. People got out of their wheelchairs despite needing them to move to crawl up in the steps of buildings in DC and demand rights. People sacrificed a lot to get these rights in place. It’s only fitting that on the 25th anniversary we remember that fight.

I think it was also hard to realize that I was alive when this was all happening. Granted I was a baby, but still… Somehow to know that rights I actively use weren’t in place when I came into the world is humbling. I am beyond grateful to the amazing people that fought – and continue to fight – for our rights.

If you need to catch up on what the ADA means, check out this collection of publications, this Q&A, or this FAQ. If you don’t have time to go through all that, this link will give you the top ten things you need to know. And if you think you know everything about the ADA, here’s a list of ten things you may NOT know.

In my state, Wisconsin, about 53,000 (6.6%) of people 5-15 have a disability. About 392,500 (10.8%) of those 16-64 do the same. (stats)

Did you know that there is an annual conference about the ADA?? This year’s just happened. You can also check out this piece on disability in America from the Smithsonian. I really like it because it goes through so many things in great detail from vision issues to ‘crip is hip’ to how those with disabilities are often looked down upon.

There are still many hurdles to tackle, so let’s not get comfortable. In celebrating the advances made, we can be comforted in the fact that children aren’t being shipped off to terrible sanitariums by parents who just can’t handle their needs only to be treated horribly by orderlies and others. We can be comforted in the fact that the disabled are not used like lab rats any longer.

Therapy and education has gotten so much better in the last 25 years. My mother-in-law has worked to help those with vision and audio impairments for most of her working life. Her daughter, my awesome sister-in-law, helps children on the autism spectrum. Despite the rough things they’ve each gone through with students, they still work hard to help these kids in their various tasks. I think that’s awesome, and it makes me proud to be a part of their family. The ADA wouldn’t be anything without those that help to enforce the laws and help those of us who need a little more assistance, so we also need to honor these people during this time.

Plus they have the best senses of humor

To find ways to celebrate in your area, please check out this events site. You may even be lucky enough to have the ADA Legacy bus come to your area! You can also sport gear to celebrate acceptance from 3E Love here. I snagged a sweatshirt at the Abilities Expo in the Chicago area a few weeks ago and I LOVE IT.

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