Remembering George H.W.Bush
Do you happen to know the link between George H.W. Bush , the 41-st President of the USA , who died on November 30,2018 and the ADA, an equivalent to the Civil Rights Act ? Many changes occurred in the world during his term in office , but the disability community will remember him for signing the ADA-Americans with disabilities Act in 1990. But actually G.H.W.Bush expanded rights of millions. The ADA did far more than just require places to be accessible. It finally brought disability rights into public consciousness. It is the first comprehensive list of laws specifically addressing the rights of people with disabilities. It radically challenged old, discriminatory laws, and touched almost every area of society, as transportation and employment policies were uppdated. For the first time in history, the United States government officially defined the rights of people with disabilities. It ultimately changed the way America viewed people with disabilities as a whole and it is still changing the lives of the 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who have a disability.
When Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990, he said it would “ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and so hard: independence, freedom of choice, control of their lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream.”
The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. It eliminated the barriers to employment, public accommodations, transportation services, etc. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life. It has had a huge impact on every sector of our everyday lives and it is a model for international rules. Huge numbers of people with disabilities can be in community, be independent and not stuck to their homes as the ADA demands that public and private institutions, restaurants, hotels, museums and sporting venues and etc to be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities.
If you search the web, you will find a lot of examples how the ADA has changed the lives of a certain personality. Here come just few of them:
-In North Carolina, an individual with a mobility disability was denied access to a grocery store because he uses a service animal for balance. After his complaint the company changed its policy, developed procedures to allow service animals, posted them on the nationwide employee website. The company posted signage stating "Service animals welcome, no pets please" in more than 1,300 stores in 11 states.
-In Florida, a couple who is hard of hearing complained that there was not enough assistive listening devices in the cinema and those they had often did not work. The theater complex, located in an area with a large elderly population, agreed to provide more than 40 assistive listening devices and to implement a policy to ensure they function well.
-In Illinois, a person who uses a wheelchair complained that a medical center did not have accessible restrooms. The medical center modified the restrooms to be accessible and paid the complainant $2,500.
When you think about the ADA law, the first image you have in mind is probably a wheelchair person. But the truth is that this legislation act has made life easier also and for people with no disability at all, meaning for all. The ADA required access to government services and public accommodations, and included a rule that public transportation be made accessible. That means adding an elevator to a major subway station, or including elevators when building new stations, or adding one when there's a substantial renovation at a station. Many underground stations have been equipped with elevators so that wheelchair users can get to platforms. As a matter of fact, many walking people or moms with children in stroller ride those elevators. It is also used willingly by elderly people, people with heavy bags or suitcases and many others. So elevators in many public places-are they gift from the nondisabled community to the disabled or visa versa ?
But the question still remains-what percentage of stations and public building are accessible? Still wheelchair accessibility has not became an issue everywhere, but in great demand. Many people don’t even call themselves as disabled-they are just a little over their 80s, or probably they can\t manage heavy luggage when travelling because of trauma. But those are the people who are being helped by the ADA, and it's a large and growing population."
Most of city centers nowadays have so-called City district, full of skyscrapers. But does it come in your mind that not so long ago the absence of a high-rise evacuation plan for people with disabilities was a norm. Meaning that there was no effective high-rise evacuation plan for anybody. You don’t have to be disabled to have a problem walking down from a 25-story skyscraper. Since the ADA has been implemented, new safety plans takes into consideration not only people with disabilities and the elderly, but also people who are injured during a disaster. Evacuation assistance can be in need by any of us.
The great thing about the ADA is that it covers almost everything and creates a society that is safe and comfortable for all. And the impact of these changes is a privilege for all of us.