I would like to share my thoughts on the Americans With Disabilities Act. Former President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990. This law established the rights of more than 43 million Americans with disabilities in the areas of employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services.
As I sat in my office this morning, I could not help but think about how far we’ve come with the rights of people with disabilities but how much more we need to do.
Too many people still have the idea that people with disabilities can’t be and shouldn’t be part of society or if they can be part of society they should only hang out on the sidelines. This is so wrong and the ADA says that people with disabilities are real people too and deserve all the rights that everyone else has.
The act has changed the lives of people with disabilities people in great ways, some of these are making public spaces more accessible via tactile warning surfaces, curb cuts, wheelchair ramps, and other aids. The ADA is a great thing, but we have a very long way to go. Let’s all start changing our priorities by supporting people with all disabilities. People with disabilities matter.
Editor’s note: Kurt Rutzen has worked as a disability advocate for Bethesda, has served as a public policy volunteer for The Arc Minnesota and worked in a part-time capacity at the Institute on Community Integration (University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) at the University of Minnesota. He is a fixture at the capitol when the Minnesota Legislature is in session. He is also active with the Minnesotan Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.