At the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush stated:
“Three weeks ago we celebrated our nation's Independence Day. Today we're here to rejoice in and celebrate another 'independence day,' one that is long overdue. With today's signing of the landmark Americans for Disabilities Act, every man, woman, and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence, and freedom."
The ADA was the world's first comprehensive statement of equality for people with disabilities. It was a collaborative effort of Republicans, Democrats, the legislative and the executive branches, federal and state agencies, and people with and without disabilities.
As we celebrate the annual ADA anniversary, it is a time to reflect positively on a law that has made a great impact on the lives of all people with disabilities and our country for 29 years. The passage of this law was historic because it was intended “to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.
At the Florida Commission on Human Relations, we are charged with upholding the principles of this extraordinary law. Our mission is to prevent unlawful discrimination by ensuring that all people are treated fairly and have access to opportunities in employment, housing and certain public accommodations, and to promote mutual respect among groups through education and partnerships. And, this is especially true for people with disabilities.
Today, the enactment of the ADA continues to reflect deeply held American ideals that treasure the contributions that individuals can make when free from arbitrary, unjust, or outmoded societal attitudes and practices that prevent the realization of their potential. The ADA reflects a recognition that the surest path to America's continued vitality, strength and vibrancy is through the full realization of the contributions of all of its citizens. Let us never forget this and continue to remember to acknowledge this important law.
Michelle Wilson, Executive Director
Florida Commission on Human Relations