Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25!

What a celebration! Last week hundreds of people marked the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with a late afternoon rally at Westlake Plaza.

The next day, Seattle City Council Chambers were packed for an ADA lunch-and-learn hosted by Councilmember Bruce Harrell. I want to thank the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities and SOCR's staff liaison Marta Idowu for their leadership to organize both events.

But the story of disability rights did not begin 25 years ago. That Presidential signing ceremony on July 26, 1990 was preceded by years of organizing, protests, testifying and yes, arrests for civil disobedience.

It began with individuals and groups across the country demanding their rights. It began with the establishment of the independent living movement, which challenged the notion that people with disabilities should be hidden from society and put in institutions. It began with the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which banned discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal funds. That law, in turn, was modeled after earlier civil rights laws.

So let us celebrate the ADA's 25th anniversary by also celebrating the thousands of people and the tens of thousands of actions that got us here. People with disabilities challenged structural barriers and an attitude of "out of sight, out of mind."

And we are not there yet. We have more work to do, and more celebrations once we accomplish that work. The Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) are just two of the many organizations working for disability rights and equity. SOCR vigorously enforces the laws that protect people with disabilities from discrimination.

Patricia Lally
Director, Seattle Office for Civil Rights

ADA 25th Celebration
ADA 25th Celebration