The ADA is 25 years old! So by now, it’s out of school, living with some friends in an apartment, making enough on its day job to pay the rent and little else, and trying to decide what it’s going to do next.
When the ADA was born, we were all thrilled. After all, it had been a hard labor. Before hand, there had been dead ends. There had been outright failures. But there was also perseverance and dedication: a vision of what the world could be and how we could think of ourselves.
What was that vision? We saw a world in which everyone could share American life and the American dream. People would no longer be herded into institutions or be isolated in their homes. Everyone could enter stores and businesses, theaters and stadiums, get on buses and trains, have jobs at fair pay and even cross the street and use the sidewalks! Before the ADA, this was only a dream.
Today, our little one has grown to 25 and is still full of potential. It’s had some challenges along the way with narrow court decisions, unpardonable delays, institutional interests and poor educational opportunities. But it has had big help from the Olmstead decision, the ADA Amendments Act, the Affordable Care Act and the unstinting energy and commitment of advocates around the country and the world. (Yes, our young Act has inspired people with disabilities across the globe!)
There are many challenges ahead but our ADA has grown to be strong and is ready to take on them on to achieve a world of equal access and opportunity. But that won’t happen without our ongoing energy and support. Together, we will build a world that recognizes disability as a natural part of life and reasonable accommodations as something we all need to be in that world.