Access Press and the ADA mark important anniversaries

Access Press and the ADA mark important anniversaries

Special issue planned

Much attention around the nation is focused on the upcoming 30-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. It was a huge accomplishment after decades of work to obtain equal rights for people with disabilities. 

Signing of the ADA also launched more work on several fronts, so that people could live their best lives. Housing, education, transportation and accommodations are but a handful of the areas we as the disability community have focused on since the ADA opened the door for us all. 

Weeks before the ADA became law, Minnesotans with disabilities also celebrated a significant accomplishment. They read the first copies of Access Press. The newspaper began publishing in May 1990 and also marks three decades in 2020. 

The vision of newspaper founder Charlie Smith, Jr. and so many others 30 years ago was to provide a means to communicate and organize the community around important issues that affected so many lives. 

So much has changed in how we communicate. Thirty years ago, we were still using “phone tree” lists to call one another. We were making those calls on land lines. Fax machines were a novelty. The Internet and social media were barely a glimpse on the horizon. 

Many of us lacked adequate transportation to get to and from jobs, recreation, place of worship and the state capitol. We were isolated. 

Many of us were unable to live in and participate in our home communities. We lived in institutions or with family. We lacked dignity and independence. 

Without Access Press to provide a means of communication, people with disabilities, their businesses and their advocacy groups struggled to reach one another. 

Our issues weren’t covered by the mainstream media. People with disabilities were “handicapped.” We were shunned or treated as novelties or as objects of pity. 

Without Access Press to serve as a watchdog, consider the many issues that would have been ignored by mainstream media had we not initially raised them. From paratransit to health care policy, Access Press has followed issues important to Minnesotans with disabilities. 

Consider what detrimental policy decisions could have been made with a newspaper to cover disability issues and the disability rights movement. If Access Press didn’t inform you, who would? 

Much has changed in how we communicate. But Access Press continues today as a publication focused on people with a wide range of disabilities. The newspaper has been through many changes but continues its primary mission of bringing news and information to our community. Access Press provides news and information to help Minnesotans with disabilities lead their best lives. 

To celebrate our anniversary, Access Press plans a special issue in July, to coincide with the signing of the ADA. We will also launch a time of looking back on our history, starting with the May issue. We will be supplementing our History Note, generously provided by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (MNCDD), with more disability community history. We will feature history online and in print. 

Our history offerings will also include a timeline of 30 years of Minnesota disability history, which will be a resource for researchers and students looking back on our past. 

This focus on the newspaper’s history, which is also the history of Minnesotans with disabilities, provides a unique chance for our advertisers and supporters to take part in our celebration at Access Press. Please contact us at 651-644-2133, watch our website for details or contact us at access@accesspress.org to learn about advertising and promotional opportunities. 

Thirty years can seem like a long time. It can also pass in the blink of an eye. Access Press is ready to look back and share that history with you, our readers. 


This article was prepared by newspaper staff and board members.