Access Living salutes advocates who helped pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and those who continue to push to realize the intent of the law

Group photo of international visitors, along with Marca Bristo and Senator Tom Harkin in front of the Road to Freedom bus at the 2015 Disability Pride Parade
Happy 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act to people with disabilities and the entire disability community everywhere. Access Living salutes all those who fought and sacrificed in order to achieve the goal of a civil rights law protecting people with disabilities.

The impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act is everywhere in Chicago and beyond, from accessible mainline transportation, to accessible public spaces, ATM’s and movie theaters. Outside of the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act is the standard followed by the international community when designing civil rights and human right protections for people with disabilities.

Though the Americans with Disabilities Act has opened doors of inclusion, access, and opportunity in many areas, the events celebrating this year’s 25th Anniversary and the work over the past year leading up to this year’s anniversary all remind us that too many doors still remain closed for people with disabilities. From thousands of people with disabilities still trapped in institutions, to an employment rate of just 35% in Illinois, to a 43% achievement gap in education, the level playing field envisioned by the Americans with Disabilities Act is still not a reality.

While the 25th Anniversary is a time to celebrate, in order to bring the disability community closer to the place intended by the Americans with Disabilities Act, more change needs to happen. This year, on the 25th Anniversary of the law, in order to affect change, communities across the country are not only applauding the success of the law, but are also laying the groundwork for future change.

In Chicago, this includes the work of ADA 25 Chicago , which is launching projects “designed to create lasting legacies that will improve the lives of people with disabilities for years to come.” Across the country, this includes initiatives by many organizations and it includes countless advocates and allies who continue to fight every day in order to achieve all that the law intended.

On the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities, Access Living is proud to be a part of local and national efforts to celebrate the civil rights milestone and to be part of efforts that build upon the success of the law in order to achieve true independence and inclusion for people with disabilities everywhere. In the words of Amber Smock, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy, the anniversary, “is about our right to live in the community. It is about getting and keeping work. It is about using public transit. It is about access to higher education. It is about accessing places of business like everyone else. The ADA is about fighting back, for all of us!.”

From Gary Arnold, Public Affairs Manager
Access Living