Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

I know all the days blur together lately, but a Friday is still a thing, right?

This week I’m thinking a lot about the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is coming up on Sunday.

In a normal year, I’d be in Washington, DC right now, as I was on the 25th, 20th, and 15th anniversaries of this monumental anti-discrimination law. Founded in 1990, the ADA is an equal opportunity law for individuals with disabilities. Kids Included Together was founded in the mid-90’s on the shoulders of this comprehensive piece of legislation.

The ADA is both a significant advancement and, unfortunately a source of ongoing frustration because it’s implementation is still not fully realized. There is still more work to be done… More work needed to ensure access and inclusion, more work to overcome the societal stigmas that the disability community continues to face. There is still much more work to be done in understanding the intersection of disability with other forms of diversity. We have to understand how, even at the most tender age, children of color who may also have disabilities are oppressed in ways that affect the entire life ahead of them. As we celebrate the 30th year of a piece of legislation that really did move the needle in so many ways, I hope we can also re-dedicate ourselves to taking the next step and working towards equity and the true understanding of the full range of human diversity.

Since I can’t be in DC to celebrate, bear witness to disability activists and learn from their lived experience, I’ll honor the day “COVID-style.” This weekend I’ll be revisiting the works of some of my favorite disability rights leaders through their written stories. If you’d like to do the same, here is a list of 7 Books to Read in Honor of the 30th Anniversary of the ADA by Book Riot.

In memory of the “Before Times,” when I could go see these leaders in person, I’ll share this image from September 2019 when Beth Foraker (KIT Board Member) and I got to attend a talk by Haben Girma at Book Passage in San Francisco. If you haven’t read it, hers would be an outstanding book to read this month in honor of the ADA.

If a book seems like too big of a time commitment, this week the New York Times published several short essays by leaders in the disability rights movement titled What the ADA Means to Me. Reading these pieces by three well-respected advocates, Haben Girma, Judy Heumman, and Alice Wong (all three have books on the Book Riot list above), will take about 15 minutes of your time, but will make a lasting impact on the way you think about disability.

This is such a valuable and important time to consider the ongoing struggle for civil rights. When a global pandemic seems to have taken down so much of life as we knew it, what’s left is the opportunity to rebuild in a way that is more equitable, more accessible, more loving, and more sustainable. I truly hope that as a society we will take that opportunity.

Cheers to the ADA and an even better future for equal rights!