Happy Birthday to the ADA!

Donna Smith and FarlowI am pleased to introduce Donna Smith, director of training for Easter Seals Project Action, as a guest blogger today.

We’ve come a long way, baby


by Donna Smith

It’s hard to believe it’s been 22 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act! This means that 23 or 24 years ago, I was faxing (yes, faxing) information and calling grassroots advocacy groups all over the country to organize campaigns in conjunction with Justin Dart’s efforts to get this legislation passed.

I thought our blog readers might want to take a look at the information offered by the National ADA centers and take a few minutes to reflect on the changes that 22 years of civil rights legislation has accomplished. And if you’re not old enough to remember that far back (smile), you can ask someone who is!

While there is much left to do to achieve a society of equality, we’re much closer than we once were. Not too long ago I was introduced to the six-year-old daughter of a colleague who, upon meeting Farlow, said, “that dog helps you stop at streets.” I was quite blown away by her spot-on interpretation of the function of a guide dog. People typically say, “that dog helps you see,” as though she was a pair of glasses, or, “that dog takes care of you,” as though she was some kind of superdog on whom I am totally dependent.

Simple incidents such as this show the real sea change of society’s understanding of the role of disability in our lives. It is neither totally debilitating nor does it require a pedestal. It is what it is, and life goes on. We’ve come a long way baby. Happy birthday, ADA!


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