The group that defined grassroots disability activism is turning 25 years old
It’s always a big week in the nation’s capital when ADAPT rolls into town. But the organization’s conference this spring was really, really big.
When it was formed in 1983, ADAPT was the acronym for the Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit. Organizers at that time linked up to protest accessibility problems with the transportation system in Denver, Colorado. Largely because of their acts of civil disobedience, both city and long-distance buses across the country are now required to be accessible to riders with disabilities.
Since then, ADAPT’s non-violent, civil actions have been instrumental in passing the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Money Follows the Person legislation, and several other projects and measures designed to help people better access their communities, and to live as independently as possible outside nursing homes and other institutions.
For more than a decade, ADAPT and other disability rights groups have been pushing for changes in Medicaid policies that currently favor nursing homes for long-term care.
April 27 – May 1, 2008, about 500 ADAPT activists were in Washington, DC, not only to celebrate the group’s 25th anniversary, but also to continue the push for Congress to pass the Community Choice Act.
They also participated in a Fun Run (& Roll) at Upper Senate Park to raise money to help members with low and fixed incomes to attend local and national actions in the future. The national honorary runner for the fundraiser was Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living in Chicago, who helped found the National Council on Independent Living. Bristo was appointed by President Bill Clinton as Chairperson of the National Council on Disability.
For about six hours during one day of the conference, ADAPT members shut down the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, which is headquarters for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and demanded to meet with HHS Secretary Michael Levitt.
Levitt eventually agreed to set a time to meet with ADAPT members to discuss the policy barriers that force seniors and people with disabilities into nursing homes and other facilities.
“We’re hoping that after today HHS will work with us to reverse the current trend, and assure older and disabled Americans can live full lives in their community,” said national ADAPT organizer Bob Kafka.
Those interested in supporting the ADAPT can do so through www.adapt.org.
Source: Inclusion Daily Express