Robert L. Burgdorf Jr. was one of the original drafters of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the late 80’s. In his Washington Post article, he tells the story of why the act mattered, personally and professionally, and how it responded to widespread, systemic, discrimination against people with disabilities. This includes everything from education, transportation, access to medical treatments, and voting.
“Large numbers of children with disabilities were systematically excluded from American public schools.” Burgdorf writes. Those who did make it into the public school system were not provided with services to meet their basic educational needs. Today, our partners at The Arc of Indiana are collecting feedback to make sure Indiana’s educational system allows individuals with disabilities have access to the same diploma as their peers.
Burgdorf continues with “Most public transportation systems made few, if any, accommodations for persons with disabilities, resulting in a transportation infrastructure that was almost totally unusable by people with mobility or visual impairments.” In March of this year, the Department of Transportation amended section 504. The rule required transportation entities to make reasonable modifications/accommodations to policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure that their programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Many things have been accomplished since the ADA became law. With continued bi-partisan support and the social stigma being chipped away through community efforts, there will be plenty more achievements for individuals with disabilities to come.