ADA’s Legacy? A Generation of Problem-Solvers

An ADA advocate holds a sign proclaiming “Equal Rights for All.” [Source: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin/]As if a gray beard isn’t enough, I know I’m getting long in the tooth when I’m asked to give a graduation speech . I spoke last night to graduating students and scholarship winners at the Office of Disability Services reception at Wright State University. Thanks to ODS director Jeff Vernooy for the opportunity to share my thoughts with the next generation of leaders in the struggle for equal rights and opportunities. Remembering how I fidgeted wile listening to such encomiums, I tried to be brief, Honestly, I did.

ADA’s Legacy? A Generation of Problem-Solvers:

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Twenty years is significant, not because it’s a round number, but rather, because it represents a generation of experience gained since the law was enacted. Many of us who lobbied for the ADA believed at the time that it could take a generation or more, as it had with the Civil Rights Act before it, to fulfill the ADA’s promise of equal opportunity for Americans with disabilities.

… On its anniversary, pundits will debate what the ADA has accomplished since then. I am no pundit, but I still believe what I said in a TV interview after the ceremony. “The ADA will not end disability discrimination overnight. But in a nation governed by the rule of law, getting it in writing is how you begin.” Read more.

My final message: “Claim your rightful place in the public sphere, because the Americans with Disabilities Act has got your back.”

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One Response to ADA’s Legacy? A Generation of Problem-Solvers

  1. J. Kline says:

    I agree with your speech to those graduating students. The process of leveling the field as far as equality for disabled Americans is an on-going process that probably will take another twenty years to come to an acceptable level; and YES, I think we HAVE made progress, thru education and awareness. By educating the general public about the different kinds of disabilities; also by making this same public aware that we all are human beings, no matter what we look like, or how easy or difficult it may be for a disabled person to “perform” a task that the rest of the population takes for granted. We ALL have disabilities, it’s just that in some individuals is more noticeable than others.
    Thank you for your article and your efforts to bring this cause forward. May you have success always.

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