Monday, July 26, 2010

ADA 20 Years Later

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and events to celebrate the milestone will be held across the country. In Pittsburgh, a Community Forum will be held from 1:30-5:00 at the Sheraton Station Square to “celebrate accomplishments and recognize past and future leaders.” The event sponsored by Allegheny County, Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, the Consumer Health Coalition and several other groups will feature panel discussions and a keynote address from Power of 32 Regional Visioning Project Executive Director and former State Senator Allen Kukovich. Also in attendance will be Three Rivers Center for Independent Living program manager Rick McWilliams. He suffered a spinal cord injury when he was 16 and has had to use a wheelchair ever since. He was at the signing ceremony for the ADA 20 years ago. He says at the time he did not fully understand the significance of the act but he says it has meant a world of difference to him and other like him over the years. “It was the opening of doors against discrimination,” says McWilliams who lives on his own, “prior to having this law there were places I could not go… I could not go to downtown Pittsburgh because there was no way to get around on the streets.” McWilliams says even though the act has been around for 20 years everyone still needs to fight to make sure it is properly enforced. He says that does not just mean adding curb cuts and ramps for those with physical disabilities but also making sure people with all types of disabilities are not discriminated against in public spaces and in the workplace. Mc Williams says he hopes everyone will take a moment today to think about those with disabilities. “People with disabilities are just like you and we want to accomplish the same things as you,” says Mc Williams.

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