31 years of the ADA: Celebrating resilience

31 years of the ADA: Celebrating resilience

The 2021 Minnesota Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebration is noon-1:30 p.m. Monday, July 26. Commemorate 31 years of the ADA at the free, online celebration, with the theme of resilience.

Registration deadline is Sunday, July 25. Register at http://bit.ly/ada-31.

The 90-minute virtual event will feature informative, engaging and entertaining speakers and performances from across Minnesota. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson will share ways the Zenith City is working to ensure greater accessibility for all its residents and visitors.

Much focus will be on the COVID-19 pandemic. NAMI Minnesota Executive Director Sue Abderholden will reflect on ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people with disabilities and the resilience shown by so many.

Great Lakes ADA Center Project Manager Peter Berg will discuss the transformation to teleworking as a vital accessibility accommodation during the pandemic. Disability lead for the COVID-19 Community Coordinators Initiative Mai Thor will share the state’s efforts to reach people with disabilities during the pandemic.

Todd Grugel, who is responsible for ADA design and constriction guidance with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), improvements on state highways.

Event attendees will be treated to performances by acclaimed jazz guitarist and recording artist Sam Miltich and Duluth-based BOLD-choice Theatre Company.

ARC Northland’s Adult and Family Services Manager Meredith Kujala will serve as event emcee.

ASL and CART services will be provided. Portions will be audio described. To request additional accommodations, contact Cindy Tarshish at 651-603-2015, 1-888-630-9793, MN Relay 711, or cindyt@mcil-mn.org. Deadline for accommodation requests is July 12. For more information, go to CelebrateADAMN.com and on Facebook at Celebrate ADAMN.

The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by then-President George H.W. Bush. It was the world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities, and was signed in front of 3,000 people on the White House law. The event represented a milestone in America’s commitment to full and equal opportunity for everyone.

Bush said, “Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” The ADA Handbook states that enactment of the ADA reflected deeply held ideals that treasure the contributions that individuals can make when free from arbitrary, unjust or outmoded societal attitudes and practices that prevent the realization of their potential.

“The ADA reflects a recognition that the surest path to America’s continued vitality, strength and vibrancy is through the full realization of the contributions of all of its citizens,” the handbook stated.

Minnesotans have celebrated the ADA since that July 1990 singing. the first-ever statewide celebration was held in August 1990 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. More than 1,000 people, including many local, state and national officials, attended the event. Attendees enjoyed speeches, music and displays from many of the state’s disability service organizations.

Equal rights for others doesn't mean less rights for you hand made sign

Over the years, the state and local celebrations continued to commemorate the ADA. Minneapolis held its own celebration for many years, as did other cities.

The statewide celebration has been at many venues over the years. It has taken many forms.

The 1991 event was at Lake Phalen in St. Paul, with entertainment, refreshments and a more relaxed park atmosphere. Subsequent events have been held at the Minnesota History Center, Nicollet Island, Hamline University, Science Museum of Minnesota, state office buildings and the capitol. Some years the event has included a march.

In 2020, what had been envisioned as a grand celebration of the ADA’s 30-year anniversary had to be scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many websites have comprehensive history of the ADA and celebrations to mark its passage. One interesting website is https://www.adaanniversary.org/findings_purpose