By Esme Grant Grewal, ANCOR Vice President of Government Relations
This Friday, July 26, we will be celebrating the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It seems like just yesterday we were preparing for the big festivities of the 25th anniversary in 2015. And it’s amazing it’s been 20 years since the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C., clarified the intent of the ADA, and a decade since the ADA Amendments Act was signed into law clarifying the scope even further.
Last week I took a short vacation with my family and I was struck while out of my usual DC surroundings how far we have come since the ADA’s passage in 1990. From the wheelchair lift at the pool, to the disability parking and wheelchair access ramp onto the sandy beach, we were surrounded by access. Some families had children or adult family members with disabilities with them and it phased no one it seemed; families could just be families. I can share with you many stories from twenty years ago where access seemed a regular problem and we faced harassment, mocking, and misunderstanding when we were out in public with my brother and sister, both with I/DD, whether it was a restaurant, school or church. I don’t think those hard times have stopped but they are far, far less frequent today for my family and I feel like, and deeply hope, it may be true for others.
Nothing about the ADA is seamless. It takes physical removal of barriers, construction of often complex accessible architecture, changing of social norms, and the steady and constant provision of supports and services to get where we are today. In 2019 the tough work of disability service providers is all the harder, the workforce crisis continues to deepen, and the need for funding is greater than ever. We know this and ANCOR will continue to fight for you and the supports and services you provide. But we will also pause, even for a brief moment this week, to reflect on why we will continue to fight for these things. Because what you are doing is working. People with disabilities are living better lives than they ever have before thanks in great part to incredible Medicaid funded services and supports and the providers that make them possible. Equality is truly achievable, and you are proving it. So happy ADA Anniversary and thank you for helping to get us here – I can’t wait to see where we are in 29 more years!
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