Celebrating 30 Years of the ADA

ADA Coordinator

Stephanie Brewer Cook
[email protected]
(865) 215-2034

400 Main St., Room 539
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Celebrating 30 Years of the ADA

July 26, 2020 is the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

What is the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) ?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- the ADA is an "equal opportunity" law for people with disabilities. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
Click here to learn more about the ADA

July, the celebration month of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has 31 days – Plenty of time to make your way through these “30 Things to Do to Celebrate the Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act” article suggestions. If you only do one a day, the entire list will be finished by the end of the month!

So you’re an employer and you’re interested in making sure you’re doing all that you can to be inclusive, accessible, and follow the ADA. If you have questions about who has to comply, who is protected, and what a reasonable accommodation is, we’ve got just the place for you to find more information – click below for ADA Basics which are geared towards employment.

With the 30th anniversary of the ADA coming up, the Southwest ADA Center is conducting a survey to gauge exactly how the ADA has helped the disability community and how to further the goals of the ADA. If you’ve got fifteen minutes to spare, and are a person with a disability, or a caregiver, please help by taking their survey.

How much do you know about ID? Matthew Williams is a champion, competing at an international level, winning medals in three different sports. Williams discusses intellectual disabilities and the Special Olympics, “Did you know the World Games happened this year? I was one of over 6,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 165 countries who competed in L.A. There was over 62,000 spectators watching opening ceremonies, and there was live coverage on TSN and ESPN. Did you even know that happened?” 

If you’re curious about the Americans with Disabilities Act and everything it entails, check out this link which provides an overview of each of the titles, fact sheets, and FAQs.

What’s the difference between a service animal and emotional support, therapy, and comfort animals? What questions can I ask to determine if an animal is a service animal? What are the rules on service animals at a buffet, a hospital, a hotel, or an ambulance? These questions and many more are answered in this U.S. Department of Justice document, “Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA”

If you’ve ever wondered how to create alt text, audio descriptions, captions, or transcripts, take a look at this “Accessibility is Cool” YouTube list from Rooted In Rights. These short videos contain a lot of great information in about two minutes or less.

Have you seen posts lately with #ThanksToTheADA or #ADA30? There’s a reason for that – the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is coming up on July 26, 2020 and people are celebrating by sharing what the ADA has meant to them. 

Were you watching on March 12, 1990 when eight-year-old Jennifer Keelan-Chafins, and others abandoned their wheelchairs and crutches to climb up the steps of the Capitol’s West Front to advocate for the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act? Just a little over three months afterward, the act was passed, paving the way for greater accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. 

What is it like to be a child experiencing a disability? Check out this ABCMe video on what its like.

Curious about Disability Rights Laws? Not only do we have the ADA, we also have other protections in place such as IDEA, and FHA. For an overview of the protections and contact information for the departments overseeing them, click on the link below.

Do you remember what life was like before the Americans with Disabilities Act was implemented? If not, take a look at this short video that was released for the 25th anniversary of the ADA.

June Sarpong, author of “Diversify” had an experience where she was disabled for four years: “The thing that was just so strange about it for me, was the way people reacted towards me after the accident. The way people treated me; it was. . . I almost saw a kind of dumbing down. It was the most bizarre thing. And I think that experience is what has made me so passionate about this issue.” In this video, she talks about why people living with disabilities are overlooked by businesses.

Amy Oulton talks candidly about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, travelling the world, and societal perceptions about her disability. “The problem with these kind of comments is they caused me to feel both hyper visible and also completely invisible as a person.”

Did you know that before the ADA, the Smith-Fess Act that established the Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Americans with disabilities was signed into law in 1920 by President Woodrow Wilson? Here’s a timeline of the progress we’ve made with disability within the last 100 years.

If you’re a student, or a parent of a student with a disability, you may be interested to learn about the history of special education law from the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965” up to the “Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.”

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a sibling with a disability? Well now you can find out! “Having a brother like James teaches me that we don’t all need to be the same to be loved.”

Sometimes it can be hard to know whether you have a disability, especially if it seems relatively minor. “It wasn’t that I was ashamed of the classification. Instead, I felt like calling my tremors a “disability” would cheapen the word. I’d grown up around adults with tremors who made no bones about them, and around people with far more obvious disabilities—like my hemiplegic mother. To me, a disability was something that interfered with pretty much every aspect of your life.”

Judith Heumann talks about her experience working for over thirty years to advocate for and advance the human rights of people with disabilities. “I encourage you all to realize that disability is a family you can join at any point in your life”

“Having a disability is definitely difficult, but it’s also one of the richest classrooms a human can experience, too. While these learning experiences are more profound experienced directly, there are some special tokens of wisdom we can pass along.” Tiffiny Carlson shares ten important lessons the world can learn from people with disabilities. Do you have any tokens of wisdom to add to this list

Understanding disability myths is important to be able to dispel them. Not only does this guide help one to understand myths and facts surrounding people with disabilities, it provides great information on interacting with people with disabilities.

Did you know that people with disabilities are the third largest economic power, and that market is still growing rapidly? “There’s a solid business case for designing for and selling to people with disabilities. First of all, consumers with disabilities make up a massive market. If the room you’re in is representative of the world, one in five of the people you share space with has a disability. According to one study, the total disposable income of the community tops $8 trillion per year.”

This Historical Disability Exhibit by Portland Community College Disability Services and Advocating Change Together features 23 panels beginning in 3500 BC and spanning to 2014 which show society’s attitudes and how they have affected the lives of people with disabilities. 

Everyone wants to be treated kindly and fairly. As a health care provider, or other service provider, how can you ensure that you’re treating people with intellectual disabilities with respect

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