Join me in celebrating the ADA’s silver anniversary
July 26 marks the silver anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That day, 25 years ago, we as a nation said “no more” to discrimination against people with disabilities.
One of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation, the ADA took no less than four years to pass. Iowa’s Senator Tom Harkin authored what became the final bill and brought many of us to tears when he delivered part of his speech in sign language so his brother who was deaf could understand.
Senator Harkin’s highly symbolic use of sign language reminds me that hearing impairments can appear invisible. Invisible, a word too often used to describe the eight million people living with mental illnesses and addictions served by National Council members.
Now, 25 years later, we can reflect on the expanded opportunities for people with disabilities. We have seen perceptions changed and barriers come down literally and figuratively—markedly increasing the participation of people with disabilities in our communities. But as we celebrate the ADA’s accomplishments, we must reaffirm our commitment to its full promise. We have to remain steadfast, especially for those with “invisible” illnesses.
On Sunday, let’s again pledge to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. Let’s again say “no more” to discrimination. And let’s again commit to changing our society’s view and treatment of disabilities—the disabilities that are invisible.