Seeing as this weekend is the final Harkin Steak Fry, I find it fitting that I post a reflection that I had this summer on July 26, the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H. W. Bush.
Today being the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) I think it is important to take a moment to reflect. My reflections today will focus upon both the events that I have attended in commemoration of his historic event this week and what lead up to this event all those years ago.
On Wednesday I attended a press conference at the National Press club. This event features a panel of experts and speakers who explained the significance of a study that was being released that day about the financial capacity of adults with disabilities. The study showed a significant discrepancy between the perceived financial security and economic standing between adults with disabilities and their able bodied counterparts. Other important findings and conclusions from the report which was conducted in part by the National Disability Institute (NDI) can be found here
During the press conference there were many remarks made about how the ADA made the employment of people with disabilities in the mainstream workforce possible. President of NDI, Michael Morrison moderated the panel and gave a rallying call for support of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in his closing remarks.
While I was waiting for my flight to Des Moines from Washington, D.C. I felt very proud to have significant knowledge of the ADA as I informed an older women with a disability about her right to be given assistance and early boarding privileges by Delta airlines.
While in Des Moines I had the privilege to attend a panel discussion about the ADA that was moderated by Senator Tom Harkin. I was very impressed with the high turnout for the event that I has spent weeks helping to organize and prepare the Senator for. I felt a surge of pride as Senator Harkin used the memo that u had prepared for him almost word for word to introduce the panelists.
Growing up in the late 1990’s I have never known a time that I, as a person with disabilities, have not been protected and assisted by the provisions later out in the ADA. This being said, I find it incredible that it took the United States government 24 years to pass another piece of legislation – the Workforce Investment & Opportunities Act – that will have as significant of an impact of the lives of people with disabilities in America as the ADA. I find it simple astonishing that the United States – a leader in inclusion, accessibility, and rights for people with disabilities – is yet to ratify the CRPD. Other counties that have ratified the CRPD wonder why our government has not done the same since the CRPD is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act. The inability of some U.S. senators to not understand the significance of ratifying the CRPD for the large disabled population simple astonishes me. There is still time to contact your local senators about the importance of ratifying the CRPD for a variety of reasons related to the economy and an individual’s quality of life while working or traveling abroad.