The ADA @ 20 -- Groundbreaking Law Celebrated by America's Paralyzed Veterans

three men in wheelchairs rolling in a line at Veterans Day ceremonyThe Americans with Disabilities Act, the single most important piece of legislation to improve the lives of people with disabilities, turned 20 years old on July 26, 2010. The anniversary is particularly poignant for Paralyzed Veterans of America, an organization that helped lead the charge for the groundbreaking act back in 1990.

“The ADA has changed millions of lives for the better, helping to empower people with disabilities with some of the basic freedoms we need to live full and productive lives. It’s helped to give us folks in chairs and other people with disabilities a shot at the American dream,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America National President Gene Crayton. “Actually the ADA has helped to improve the quality of everyone’s life. For example, if you’ve ever used a curb cut, the ADA has helped you. It’s something that all Americans can feel proud of.”

Since its enactment, the ADA has had an enormous impact on fighting discrimination in the areas of employment, public services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.

Paralyzed Veterans has also helped lead the charge against efforts to weaken the ADA since its enactment. For example, federal courts severely restricted ADA coverage in employment cases. This meant that workers with disabilities were being fired and denied promotion because of their disabilities, only to be told by the courts that they were not disabled under the ADA. The disabilities community and Congress responded with the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The act restored the protections that Congress intended in the original legislation: broad protections to cover anyone who faces unfair discrimination because of a disability.

“As we celebrate this great anniversary and the progress we have made, I also encourage everyone to think even bigger when it comes to the remaining barriers facing people with disabilities. Let’s identify them and tear them down,” Crayton stressed.

For more information, visit the Americans with Disabilities Act website.

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