Celebrating the Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
Each day on the Good Morning Rodeo, I share the National Day with meteorologist Karl Klopotic. We typically banter back and forth before choosing the most appealing to us. It's good-natured fun between us.
This morning Karl and I briefly discussed National Disability Independence Day as today commemorates the signing of the landmark Federal legislation Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26th, 1990.
Our conversation got me thinking about the 32 years since being signed into law by President George H.W. Bush and how countless Americans have experienced the benefits of improved access to everything ranging from public transportation to restrooms. In addition, the ADA protects from employment discrimination and better access to goods, services, and communications for people with disabilities.
Having been involved in Iowa politics during this time, I observed and noted the legislation's impacts over the past three decades through many professional and personal projects.
As the lead author, former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin played a pivotal role in crafting the vital legislation designed to protect and improve the lives of countless Americans. As a result, common barriers such as narrow doors and small bathroom stalls became accessible to wheelchairs.
Other examples include designated parking, sidewalk enhancements, public transit improvements, braille signs and crosswalks for the vision impaired. As a result, the changes improved mobility, safety, and access to areas of life that were previously out of reach in the realms of employment, education, recreation, and everyday life activities typically taken for granted by a non-disabled person.
Harkin knew firsthand about the challenges facing people with disabilities from his brother, Frank, who had been deaf since an early age.
Upon the ADA's passage, Harkin delivered a moving speech in sign language dedicated to his brother, which starkly contrasts today's Washington D.C. politicians.
With the passage of the ADA, we as a society make a pledge that every child with a disability will have the opportunity to maximize his or her potential to live proud, productive, and prosperous lives in the mainstream of our society...the doors are open, and the barriers are coming down. - Fmr. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin
With technological advancements since becoming the law of the land, the ADA has delivered significant impacts across America for generations far into the future.
The CDC estimates that 1 in 4 adults live with a disability in America today, with cognitive disabilities most prevalent in young adults and mobility challenges most common for others.
On this day, marking the anniversary of the ADA's passage, it's also a great reminder of how bipartisanship in Washington once worked for the benefit of the American people.
Today, the ADA clearly shows that finding common ground for the common good can have a lasting, far-reaching impact and ought to be elected officials' actual aim versus setting their sights on one another.