HRC Blog

Reflections on the Americans with Disabilities Act

Post submitted by Rohmteen Mokhtari, HRC Family Project Coordinator

I am a part of the ADA generation. A generation of people with disabilities who grew up with the protections of laws stemming from years of tireless advocacy by disability rights activists.
 
Perhaps the most notable of these laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was signed twenty-two years ago today.
 
At the signing ceremony President George H.W. Bush declared,  “with today's signing… every man, woman, and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence, and freedom.”
 
While there’s much work to be done to make this vision a reality, I can’t help but pause and reflect on how this moment (and the movement that made it possible) impacted me.
 
My father, like me, is visually impaired and growing up he always told me that disability should never hold me back from living up to my full potential.
 
This message was reinforced by the knowledge that I lived in a country with laws ensuring I receive reasonable accommodations at school and work and that I not be arbitrarily fired because of my disability.
 
I was reminded of my father’s frequent declaration as I looked through HRC’s recent survey of LGBT youth.
 
Sometimes it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the impact of legislation - like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) – on the lives of real people.
 
But then I think of the ADA generation.
 
And I imagine a generation of LGBT youth growing up in the not-so-distant future knowing that they live in a country with laws that ensure that they will not be excluded at school or arbitrarily fired at work just because of who they are.
 
Maybe we can call them the ENDA generation.
 

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