“With today’s signing of the landmark Americans for Disabilities Act, 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… Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
These words echoed across the South Lawn of the White House, 25 years ago, as President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. As a kindergartner I had little understanding or interest in federal legislation, and little did I know that this act would be the foundation of my success and independent adult life. On that day the nation granted me full citizenship to America with a range of opportunities with the right to pursue.
Even as I sit here in my apartment in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, I struggle to picture what my life would look like without the passage of the ADA. Would I have been able to receive my doctorate, live independently, or maintain employment? I fear that I know the answer to those questions.
Although I praise the successes of the ADA and attribute many of my successes to its existence, we have yet to attain the full purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The battle is not over. Many buildings remain inaccessible, services unobtainable, and attitudes unchanged. We must remember that the ADA was written for all people with disabilities, not just those with physical limitations.
As we enter the quarter-century under the ADA, we must continue our efforts to make sure that there is equal access for all in all areas of life.
By Dr. Josie Bager
Campaign Manager, #IWantToWork Campaign
(As we celebrate a quarter century of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the #IWantToWork campaign is proud of our inspirational staff. These four young adults show every day that living with a disability does not have to be a barrier to being a successful, contributing member of society. This is the second of four reflections from our staff, coordinated by Alexa Brill, Communications Associate.)