Minnesota’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) kicks off with a Family Day in St. Paul in July and continues through October with an employment conference. The ADA is a landmark civil rights law granting protection against discrimination for people with disabilities.
Among its provisions, the law prohibits discrimination in the workplace and establishes clear requirements for physical and programmatic accessibility and accommodations. It took many decades of activism to secure equal rights for people with disabilities that culminated in the signing of this historic civil rights legislation. The ADA provided and continues to provide inclusion of millions of people with disabilities into the mainstream of American life.
Projects done in conjunction with Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), an employment survey and an October event centered on employment continue the commemoration. The events are organized by the Minnesota State Council on Disability (MSCOD). Joan Willshire, executive director of the council, said all are welcome to attend the Family Day and participate in the employment conference and related survey.
The Family Day is noon – 4 p.m. Sunday, July 26 at the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. The event is free.
“We’re very excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA by bringing together the community to share stories about the ADA, listen to great entertainers and see fabulous art. It will all be under one roof and we hope everyone is able to attend this historic event,” said Willshire.
The event includes live entertainment, speakers, an open microphone so visitors can share their stories, interactive arts activities and fun for all. Light refreshments will be served.
A barbeque lunch is available for purchase. See clips of The ADA at 25: Disability Rights in Minnesota, a documentary film produced by TPT.
Reasonable accommodations will be provided for the event. All video presentations will have ASL, open captioning and audio description. Volunteers will be stationed at all doors and elevators to provide assistance. ASL interpreters will attend every presentation.
The History Center is accessible to visitors with disabilities. Wheelchairs and strollers are available at no charge on a first-come, first-serve basis from the ticketing desk on the first floor. Electric scooters are also available with valid ID.
Elevators and ramps serve all public areas including the 3M Auditorium. In the auditorium, front and rear row seating is available for visitors using wheelchairs.
Please arrive early to reach this area before programs begin. Visitor Services staff are available to assist guests. Assistive Listening Devices are available for all programs in the 3M Auditorium.
All public restrooms include accessible facilities. Service animals such as guide dogs are permitted to assist visitors.
For visitors with autism spectrum disorders, History Center staff has worked to increase access and inclusion for families. Staff has received training to better understand and assist with the challenges and opportunities that may arise during a visit. To help families prepare for a visit, center staff and Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) have create a social story that can be downloaded.
Earplugs are available by request at the information desk and staff can direct guests to the designated quiet space.
For information on History Center accommodations, go here.
Plan now for Family Day event transportation and parking. The History Center is served by Metro Transit Bus Route 21A, which has connections with Green Line and Blue Line light rail. To find bus connections, go to www.metrotransit.org/
The center has its own parking lot. Additional disability parking spaces will be posted for the event.
If the center lot is full, a free shuttle service will be offered, from state parking lots and one ramp. The lots are Lot J, K and H, which are on either side of the Veterans Service Building, and Ramp F on Rice Street just west of the Transportation Building. All have signed disability parking. For lot and ramp locations, go here.
The TPT partnership produced the documentary The ADA at 25: Disability Rights in Minnesota, and a short white board video essay by David Gillette, a tpt journalist. Gillette’s essay, Celebrate 25 Years of the ADA, highlights the impact of the ADA on the everyday lives of people with disabilities and the obstacles they face in the workplace. The video can be viewed here.
The full documentary premiere, which is 30 minutes long, airs 8 p.m. Sunday, July 26 on TPT. It will have additional rebroadcasts; check television listings.
The documentary focuses on the civil rights struggle Minnesotans faced leading up the passage of the ADA and will explore where the community believes the ADA needs to go in the next 25 years.
Employment survey, event The activities don’t end with the Family Day and TPT productions. MSCOD is conducting a survey of people with disabilities and employers across the state. Results of the survey will appear on the council website and help MSCOD in its efforts to promote and improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The goals of the survey are to gauge the general awareness of the ADA, to understand perceptions about employing people with disabilities and to identify ways to increase equality in the workplace
The surveys lead up to a statewide conference: The ADA at 25 – Minnesota Moving Forward, Wednesday, October 28 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The free conference will feature speakers and breakout sessions, with a focus on recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining employees with disabilities. It will also include a career fair for people with disabilities. Find registration and schedule information here.
As part of the conference, the state council invites employers throughout Minnesota to host brown bag lunches at their workplaces, to take part in the discussion, which will be televised.
Find a full list of project partners for the ADA events, go here.