I did not grow up as a person with a disability. When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in July 1990, I understood its significance, but it was not until I started losing my vision that I experienced firsthand the barriers it helps to remove. Now, as a person living – and thriving – with a disability, I encourage others to realize the importance of this essential piece of legislation.
Modeled after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the ADA is described as an “equal opportunity law for people with disabilities.” One-quarter of all Americans report the ADA has improved their life. The ADA makes a remarkable impact, but people with disabilities still face barriers to housing, employment and health care. In Indiana, nearly 60 percent of Hoosiers who are blind are unemployed. This staggering statistic underscores the challenges our communities face. How do we erase these barriers and reach the goals set out by the ADA? The solution is a combination of understanding, awareness and access. Often, the solution starts with employment.