Those that were
born after July 26, 1990 have grown up in a world knowing that equal rights
regarding disabilities is a guarantee, not just a promise. Transportation,
jobs, schools and other public places are all available to anyone regardless of
their ability. Before 1990, discriminatory practices such as not hiring a
person with disabilities, restaurants not being accessible, and more were all
legal. But on July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans
with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.), the civil rights law that prohibits
discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life,
including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that
are open to the general public.
Although the A.D.A.
bans discrimination, there are still forms of discrimination happening in our
world. For instance, in 2019, according to the U.S.
Department of Labor, only 31 percent of working-age people with
disabilities had a job compared to the 75 percent of those without
disabilities. Bethesda fights against this inequity with employment support
services including our Career Connections program, helping people with
disabilities find jobs and sustained success with employment. There are many
programs like this across the United States, educating employers on the simple
changes they can make to incorporate someone with a disability, and the
advantages of being an inclusive employer.
striving to become more equal in the workplace, people with disabilities are
becoming more and more visible in the general public’s eye. Many television
programs and movies featuring people with disabilities have come out recently,
including the movie, “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” the Netflix documentary, “Crip
Camp: A Disability Revolution” and the Netflix show, “Atypical.” Not only are
disabilities more prominent in programming but Hollywood is actually using
actors with real disabilities instead of actors portraying someone with a
disability. This is huge for representation and inclusion, and is a major step
for more visibility and acceptance for the general public who may not interact
regularly with people with disabilities.
The A.D.A. has
provided so many opportunities for people with disabilities in our society and
those opportunities are growing every day due to organizations like ANCOR,
Bethesda, The Arc, Easterseals, Disability:IN and so many others. We can all
work together to make sure the next 30 years create as much progress as the
past 30 years.
Here are four
ways that you can safely celebrate the 30th anniversary of the A.D.A
- Find out more about disability employment
milestones. The A.D.A. is often the most visible and celebrated milestone
within the disability employment movement but the disability community has done
so much since then as well. Check out the Disability and Employment: A
Timeline that explores key milestones in the disability employment movement
from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Join a virtual rally. Grassroots
activism was critical to the passing of the A.D.A. Rallies and marches bring
the disability community member and advocates together in-person to promote
their important causes. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic in place, many
organizations are gathering online to hear from disability leaders and share
personal experiences. Check out the June 26 virtual rally the Harkin
Institution is planning.
- Participate in a virtual disability pride
parade. Disability Pride Parades originated as a way to end the stigma
around disability, promote the idea that disability is a natural, valuable part
of diversity and to celebrate people with disabilities. Traditionally, these
parades are held in-person and organized to happen across the country. However
due to the pandemic, many organizations have chosen to move their events to a
virtual format. Check out Chicago’s
Disability Pride Parade. Easterseals is encouraging people to use the
hashtag, #VirtualDisabilityPride on July 26th. Make sure to share
signs, photos, videos and stories about their disabilities experiences.
- Find articles or books by authors with
disabilities. By researching and reading these pieces, a different
viewpoint will emerge and increase understanding and acceptance. “Nothing About
Us Without Us” is a popular slogan within the disability community to encourage
people to work WITH people with disabilities instead of deciding what is best
for them. Some great works include: Disability Visibility: FIRST-PERSON STORIES FROM THE
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, edited by Alice Wong; Haben: The Deafblind Woman
Who Conquered Harvard Law, by Haben Girma; and Forbes
Pulrang and Denise Brodey,
who write articles regarding disability practices, policies and workplace
The A.D.A. has
created so many possibilities for people with disabilities in the past 30
years. Many pieces of accessibility are looked over as commonplace or taken for
granted, but they would not have been possible before 1990. We thank the
disability community pioneers that have fought for these rights and also those
that have fought since for additional rights and access.