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25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act Sparked Positive Change in the United States

By Emily @emily_ladau
25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act Sparked Positive Change in the United States

With the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) fast approaching, plans for celebrations are launching into high gear. I love any reason to join a party, so I'm obviously pretty excited.

But let's get serious - ADA 25 is an awe-inspiring, momentous occasion that deserves the highest honor. On July 26, 1990, the world-changing disability rights movement leaders who fought so hard for the U.S. government to ensure the rights of the disability community finally achieved victory when President Bush, Sr. signed the ADA into law. They are some of my biggest heroes, these activists who put themselves on the front-lines to spark change for generations to come.

And now, the time is here for people of all abilities to honor the legacy of the ADA and its rich history. New York City has huge festivities in store in the coming months, and through the Youth Council of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), I've had the opportunity to join my friends and peers who have grown up with the ADA as part of our lives in spreading disability pride far and wide.

To learn more about what's happening in the upcoming months, MOPD has created an ADA25NYC website that I'd recommend bookmarking right away for reference. There will be cultural events, lectures, general merriment, and even a Disability Pride Parade. If you're hosting an event in or around NYC, you can submit it to MOPD's central ADA25NYC calendar so people will know! And don't forget to keep up with what's going on through the #ADA25NYC hashtag! Basically, I don't plan on being home for most of July. As the calendar fills up, I might try setting a record for most disability-related events attended in one month.

But while we wait for the celebrations to get going, how about we begin with a little celebrating of our own?

I'm a big fan of lists, so what better way to show a little love to the ADA than to share a list of all of the important ways the ADA has brought change to the United States? After you check out my list, My friend and fellow advocate and blogger Cara Liebowitz and I will be hosting a link-up of blog posts celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ADA! Be sure to read Cara's post on the ADA!

If you're a blogger, you can use an idea from my list as a jumping-off point, or choose your own, and write a post sharing how the ADA has had a positive effect on your life. (Don't have a blog? You can guest post on Cara's! Or, now might even be a great time to start a blog of your own.) Starting now until the end of July, you can email your blog post to [email protected] and Cara and I will compile an ongoing master list of links for an ADA 25 round-up! We hope you'll join us!

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act Sparked Positive Change in the United States

1) Curb cuts

2) More equal opportunities for people with all types of disabilities to receive a public education

3) Increased accessible public transportation

4) Service animals are more accepted in public

5) Reasonable accommodations

6) Greater social involvement among the disability community in all areas of society

7) More civic engagement, i.e. voting

8) Expanded employment opportunities for disabled people

9) Gives a stronger voice to the world's largest minority

10) Provides a platform of civil rights for the disability community

11) Disabled athletes can thrive in adaptive sports

12) Support systems exist for people with all types of disabilities

13) Misconceptions and prejudices can be more easily debunked

14) There is a bigger presence of disability in the media

15) Adaptive products are more widely available.

16) There is a bigger focus on studying disability in academia

17) Paved the way for further legislative policy advancement for disability rights

18) Serves as a common bond for all people with disabilities in the United States

19) Provides a legal basis to maintain momentum in pursuing accessibility and justice

20) Automatic door openers have become much more common in public places

21) Helps prevent discriminatory actions or retaliation

22) Social recognition of disabled people as full, contributing citizens

23) Acts as a symbol of disability pride and culture

24) Serves as a reminder of the positive potential of bipartisanship

25) Created a legacy for current and future generations of young activists as we carry the torch forward

Within this list, decades of progress are reflected. Yet, I know the work of disability rights advocates is far from finished. I know that on days when we, as disabled people, face discrimination or access barriers, we may find ourselves forgetting the battles that have already been fought. We must remember, though, the immense passion and dedication of the activists whose ADA victory was hard-won. We must never take for granted the progress society has made in the past 25 years, and in the next 25 years, the disability community and non-disabled allies alike must continue to work to honor the legacy of generations before us by continuing to roll forward the wheels of progress and change.

What's your take? How has the ADA positively affected your life? How are you celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ADA?

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