Rhonda Thompson, Community Relations Specialist
We are celebrating 25 years since the passage of the
Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA, a federal civil rights law for people
with disabilities, was signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.
Did you know that it took years of coordination and collaboration among
coalitions and networks of disability organizations as well as community and
civil rights organizations to bring this legislation to passage? Did you know
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 laid the groundwork for the passage of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and eventually the ADA in 1990? Did you know the ADA
enables individuals with disabilities to take charge of their own lives and
join mainstream America? Individuals with disabilities are an integral part of
society and should not be segregated, isolated, or face discrimination due to a
disability. The ADA opens up access, education, jobs, equal participation, and
dignity to all Americans, especially those with disabilities. It is about civil
rights, not welfare benefits.
Did you know businesses and governments must be proactive in
offering equal opportunity to individuals with disabilities? Did you know Title
I requires employers to make necessary reasonable accommodations for known
disabilities of a qualified applicant or employee, unless it imposes an undue
hardship on the employer? Did you know Title II requires public entities to
allow equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in services,
programs, and activities? For example, they must provide auxiliary aids and
services for effective communication, and accept the use of service animals.
Title II also includes equal access to existing public transportation services.
Title III requires equal access to goods and services for
individuals with disabilities, including equal access to privately owned
businesses and organizations as well as public accommodations, both profit and
non-profit. Did you know architectural and structural communication barriers
must be removed, where readily achievable?
Did you know the ADA and other disability rights laws cover communication,
education, parking, air travel, recreation, playgrounds, housing, and voting?
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA, we
celebrate the barriers that have been removed. Thank you to the disability
rights activists, the legislators, and President Bush Sr., who supported the
bill as Vice President and signed it as President. We celebrate these people
who worked tirelessly, some risking their health and very lives to enable and
empower the next generations to live independently.
Rhonda Thompson has
worked as the Community Relations Specialist at Independence, Inc. since 2013.
She frequently travels to each of the eleven counties covered by the agency,
providing accessibility checks, emergency management tips, and so much more.