When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed into law 24 years ago, the main call to action was “nothing about us without us.” Somewhere between then and now, the battle cry turned into a shallow echo. The ADA helped create a better physical environment in most places, but has fallen short of what it could do.
I had the honor of listening to a panel of politicians and leaders in Iowa, led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a tireless disability advocate. Each panelist spoke about the history of the ADA, its impact and what the future could hold. Four major points were emphasized: equal opportunity, full participation in society, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.
Opportunities have increased, as have options to participate in society, but there is a lot of work left for us to increase independent living and financial self-sufficiency for those with disabilities. Many nondisabled people have no reason to think about what it would be like to be a person with a disability until they become one or become close to a person