Remembering 25th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act

Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living to celebrate ADA Aug. 29

By Pam Heavens | Executive Director

Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living

July 26 marked the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H.W. Bush. The number of parades, firework displays and barbeques were undoubtedly fewer than July 4 celebrations, but to the roughly 53 million Americans with disabilities, our joy in reaching this landmark anniversary was indescribable.

This federal piece of legislation prohibits discrimination based on disability in employment, local and state government, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. The question arises: What progress has been made to fulfill the ADA’s promise of equal access, inclusion and equal opportunity?

In most large cities, fixed-route buses are accessible and offer comparable para-transit service. Curb cuts at street intersections are more prevalent. Many owners of buildings constructed prior to the ADA have made modifications to increase access, thus increasing their profits. Computer software allows people with vision loss or blindness to access email, browse the Internet, as well as perform tasks on various computer programs.

Certainly, improvements have been made for people with disabilities in the past quarter century. However, the unemployment rate among working age people with disabilities remains at a staggering 70 percent. Businesses remain inaccessible, even though they may require a minor modification. Public transportation is desperately needed throughout the state and nation. Thousands of people with disabilities remain institutionalized.

On Aug. 29, the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living will hold its Empowerment Event: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We invite everyone to join us for an evening of dinner, music and prizes at Harrah’s Joliet from 5:30-10 p.m. Proceeds will benefit services the center provides to people with any disability of any age, which allows them to live independent lives. Seats are $50 per person. RSVP to pam@wgcil.org or call 815-729-0162.

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