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#Thanks to the ADA—NY

Northeast ADA Center Staff July 20, 2020

As we approach the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, many people are celebrating how far we have come, as well as reflecting on how far we still have to go. The Northeast ADA Center is part of the ADA National Network. We have reached out to people in our region, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, to take part in the ADA National Networks, #ThanksToTheADA Campaign, to hear what they are thankful for, 30 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Here are some voices from our friends in New York State.

Thanks to the ADA, we now have more rights and accessibility than ever before! When President Bush signed this legislation into law, he said: ‘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. This historic act is the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities.’ He also addressed the business community when he said ‘You've called for new sources of workers. Well, many of our fellow citizens with disabilities are unemployed. They want to work, and they can work, and this is a tremendous pool of people.’”

‘The triumph of this legislation is the accessibility that individuals with disabilities have today. The creation of the relay system for those with hearing loss has been life changing. In addition, most people with disabilities agree that access to public accommodations, local businesses, government buildings and public services has significantly improved since the ADA. Think about this: All transitioning high school graduates today have never known a time without the ADA. This can only provide hope that more ingenuity will be built on the foundation of the ADA.

‘Thirty years later, Ann Reesman, general counsel of the Equal Employment Advisory Council, said ‘The ADA has promoted some great strides, both in fueling technology and empowering people who didn’t otherwise feel that they could come forward and compete for a job, and that they are able to do that now.’ We still have challenges regarding employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities however we look forward to more enlightened days to come!”

—Michele Green, District Coordinator for Workforce Development & Business Relations, ACCESS-VR

”The Americans with Disabilities Act (Amended by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act in 2008) is 30 years old in 2020, and it has changed the landscape of physical access for persons with disabilities and afforded more equal access to goods and services provided by state and local governments and private commercial enterprises. Curb cuts, ramps and other modes of ingress and egress have sprouted in our structural environments due to advocacy and litigation based on the ADA. The law has spurred local government and business enterprises to re-envision their provisions of goods and services to the general public overall, as a society we have come to realize that restructuring to provide fair access for PWD’s has benefited everyone, we have discovered the power of what is known as universal design. The enforcement mechanisms of the ADA under Titles II and III are powerful enough to foster these dynamic improvements for the quality of life for PWD’s, and advocates, aggrieved persons and their legal representation have been able to take full advantage of the equal protections found in these two domains of the ADA.”

—Louis Altman, MS CRC, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, ACCES-VR