ADA prepares for next 20 years
Imagine not being able to attend events with your family or friends, being unable to eat at certain restaurants or unable to get to your job.
Often there are barriers that prevent those with physical disabilities from doing just those simple things.
However, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, has come a long way to ensure that persons with physical and/or mental disabilities aren’t precluded from having the same opportunities as everyone else.
And there are many of us who have some type of disability. In fact, it’s estimated that one in six of us have some form of physical or mental disability.
The ADA protects against discrimination in numerous areas, including employment, housing, education, transportation, public accommodations, health services, voting, communication, recreation, institutionalization and access to public services.
But if you look around while thinking of someone you know who has a disability, you can still find plenty of barriers.
That’s why President Barack Obama is updating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
At a 20th anniversary celebration on July 26 held on the White House South Lawn, Obama announced that, 18 months from now, all new buildings must be constructed by 2010 standards. Features like doors, windows, elevators and rest rooms must be ADA compliant. The additional rules to the Act also apply to recreational and municipality facilities, stores and restaurants.
And, because of people like Indianapolis attorney Greg Fehribach, many public places in the Hoosier state already are in compliance.
Fehribach, who has osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), also known as brittle bone disease, is a consultant on accessibility design issues. He helped ensure that places like the Indiana State Museum and Lucas Oil Stadium are accessible to those who, not so long ago, might not have been able to get inside those buildings.
Fehribach and his wife, Mary Beth, who is a friend of mine, attended the celebration on the South Lawn and a presidential gala the following night. I applaud them and the countless others who fight to help create equal opportunities for all Americans.
So many of those with disabilities were not born with the limitations that challenge them today, but, rather, life-changing events, such as vehicle crashes and medical conditions, forced them to find ways to persevere with what was handed to them.
I hope you will find some way to join the cause. You never know when you or a loved might be the one who feels excluded due to limitations. We all deserve to have access to wherever we want to go and to feel independent.