President George H.W. Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990. [Source: ucp.org]
I remember the day 20 years ago tomorrow, July 26, when I went to the White House to watch President George H. W. Bush sign the legislation. The event was held outside on the South Lawn, between the White House and the Ellipse. Everyone had to pass through metal detectors to enter. The Secret Service surely had a crash course in disability awareness, because it was the smoothest security check I ever had.
As I walked through the wrought-iron gate, I looked around and marveled, “Wow, they let me in here!” They let me in, and a thousand other people. We had every kind of disability in the human condition, and we used every kind of assistive device available at the time. I like to think we were the most diverse group of citizens ever gathered together at the White House.
The ADA signing ceremony was held outside, not because it was a beautiful summer day, but because the White House itself was not fully accessible. Many in our diverse group of citizens could not have entered the building. Long gone were the wooden ramps installed five decades earlier to accommodate President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wheelchair. Read more.