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In this era of ramps, lifts and other hallmarks of accessible design, it is sometimes hard to remember in our near distant past, inaccessibility was the norm. Barriers abounded.
However, today is a day to celebrate.
National Disability Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, opening the door and breaking down barriers individuals with disabilities faced every day. Today the ADA celebrates its 30th anniversary!
The ADA is a civil rights law, prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the public. It provides individuals with disabilities with protections similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion.
The day not only celebrates the anniversary of the ADA — it also serves several other purposes. First, the law broke down barriers individuals with disabilities faced every day. It also marked several changes that soon developed. Over time, common barriers such as narrow doors and small bathroom stalls became accessible to wheelchairs. Other examples include braille signs and crosswalks for the vision impaired. These changes improved mobility and safety.
Central City Concern (CCC) is committed to ensuring our programs and services are welcoming and accessible to all staff, patients, clients and residents—regardless of type of disability. To be respectful of the independence of people with disabilities, here are a few guidelines CCC uses:
- Do not make assumptions about the person based on their disability. It isone small part of the person’s overall personhood and experience.
- If it appears someone needs help, always ask permission to help first: Would you like help? If the person says, yes, then ask: How would you like me
- Always speak directly to the person. Make eye contact and address comments and questions directly to the person even if they are accompanied by
a caregiver, sign language interpreter or other support person.
- Respect the person’s privacy. Do not ask questions about the person’s disability unless you have a reason to know (such as a provider working with
someone whose disability is directly related to the office visit).
Check out this helpful guide on being respectful of persons with disabilities and
honoring their independence. Let’s celebrate today while continuing to advocate for more inclusive changes.