Honoring 41 and the ADA

Silhouette of soldier and service dogThese last few weeks we have mourned the loss of former President George H.W. Bush, our 41st President.  One of his greatest accomplishments in office was enacting an important policy we know today as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation and is an "equal opportunity" law for people with disabilities.

The ADA prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life - to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. 

President Bush was a champion for inclusivity, helping individuals with disabilities, and creating awareness for social change.  It is because of his advocacy that you see ramps instead of steps, disabled parking places near entrances, van accessible parking, and service animals, just to name a few.

"He brought Democrats and Republicans together to pass bipartisan legislation that was much more important than people realize.  It shattered barriers and opened up opportunities for the disabled community that never before existed." said Ron Kovic, a badly wounded Vietnam War veteran and author of "Born on the Fourth of July," when recently asked about George H.W. Bush and the ADA.

Americans with Disabilities Act image with wheelchair, sign language, deaf and blind poplulationThe signing of the ADA into law was a bright new day and continues to be a step in the right direction for breaking down barriers for individuals with disabilities.  Disability Network Northern Michigan strives for Universal Accessibility, which takes access to a higher level and is even more inclusive than the ADA.  However, the ADA continues to help level the playing field so that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their goals and dreams.

Former President George H.W. Bush stated in his remarks when signing the ADA into law,"...many of our fellow citizens with disabilities are unemployed.  They want to work, and they can work, and this is a tremendous pool of people. And remember, this is a tremendous pool of people who will bring to jobs diversity, loyalty, proven low turnover rate, and only one request: the chance to prove themselves....Well, when given the opportunity to be independent, they will move proudly into the economic mainstream of American life, and that's what the legislation is all about."

Although we have come so far in implementing positive social change for individuals with disabilities and continue to help break down the barriers restricting individuals from achieving their goals and dreams to live independently, there is still so much work to do.  YOU can be a part of that movement to improve equality, achieve independence, and increase equity of opportunity, by volunteering and donating here.

We think former President Bush summed up the power of the ADA in these remarks he said at the signing of the ADA, "We embrace you for your abilities and for your disabilities, for our similarities and indeed for our differences, for your past courage and your future dreams...And now I sign legislation which takes a sledgehammer to another wall, one which has for too many generations separated Americans with disabilities from the freedom they could glimpse, but not grasp. We rejoice as this barrier falls for claiming together we will not accept, we will not excuse, we will not tolerate discrimination in America."

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