Twenty years ago, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. As a result, most of the nation's buildings and public transportation are now accessible to the handicapped. But, getting there wasn't easy, as ADA advocate Linda Andre can attest.
Before the ADA passed, Andre and fellow disabled Americans staged sit-ins and protests in cities around the country to call for greater accessibility. Today, more than 95% of the nation's buses are handicapped accessible, whereas less than 5% were 20 years ago.
Although people with disabilities have come a long way thanks to the ADA, disability advocates say much more still needs to be done. More than half of Americans with disabilities are unemployed, and many live unwillingly in nursing homes because they can't afford needed aid.
The first 3 minutes and 16 seconds of this video is a general overview of the ADA's 20th anniversary, and the rest is a discussion with President and CEO of the American Association of People With Disabilities Andrew Imparato and student Amelia Wallrich.
"You know, if you are a parent pushing a stroller, if you are pulling a roller bag behind you, if you are a delivery person delivering something, you are using all of those features that are there because of the ADA."- Andrew Imparato, president & CEO, American Association of People With Disabilities
"For me, joining the disability community and embracing it has really been about pride and the way that the ADA breaks down barriers, so that I can embrace that pride." - Amelia Wallrich, student, University of Illinois
"The ADA didn't come easy, and it didn't come because politicians thought it was a good idea. It came because people with disabilities fought and said, we're going to be equal. We're going to have access." - Dawn Russell, Denver ADAPT
1. What is a disability?
2. What does accessibility mean?
3. What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
1. In the video, Andrew Imparato makes the point that all people use the infrastructure put in place by the ADA, such as elevators and accessible entrances. Do you or people you know use any elements of that infrastructure? If so, what do you use?
2. Why do you think so many people with disabilities are still unemployed? What could be done to change that?
3. Do you or someone you know have a disability? How does the ADA help you or them every day?