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The ADA Turns 20

Categories: Activities, Blind or Visually Impaired, Learning Disabilities

On July 26th, 1990, the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signified our country’s commitment to equal rights and equal access for people with disabilities. RFB&D joins a panorama of organizations and individuals around the U.S. in celebrating this milestone -- even as we are reminded of the work still to be done to ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in our society. The ADA established a clear mandate for the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities, and in so doing, has expanded opportunities, reduced barriers, and changed perceptions. In education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal and state laws have similarly opened doors for people previously denied opportunities to succeed.
Breaking down barriers is only the first step in our commitment.
These efforts have all acknowledged that breaking down barriers is only the first step in our commitment. We must also provide the tools necessary for students with disabilities to achieve and have every opportunity to fully realize their potential and fully participate in society. Without such a commitment to results, guarantees of equality become empty promises. For over 60 years, RFB&D has shared in this commitment. Working closely with schools, families, and partners, our mission is to provide equal access to the printed and electronic word for all of those who learn differently. We know students succeed when we break down barriers to content and give them the tools they need. “Because of RFB&D, I have no worries about keeping up in class, or my ability to absorb the material. I have become an independent learner,” says Katie Salmon, who recently graduated high school in New Jersey and will start her freshman year at Syracuse University next month. Salmon goes on to say with pride that "I don't have a learning disability; I have a learning disability. I own my dyslexia; my dyslexia doesn't own me." We also know that supporting educators is critical to students’ success. Marta Noa-Leroy, a special education teacher in Florida, says the accessible content that RFB&D’s program delivers has been a lifeline in meeting the needs of K-8 students in the Miami-Dade school system. “It’s an essential, invaluable resource, and everyone who has been able to take advantage of this initiative will say the same.” I encourage you to learn more about the ADA and its impact on our society. The ADA National Network, funded by the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, has a number of resources and tools related to the 20th anniversary and the history of the ADA. The American Association of People with Disabilities also has a site dedicated to celebrating this event. As we celebrate this historic milestone, we renew our commitment to people with disabilities. Our society has made tremendous strides since enactment of the ADA, but the work goes on. Thank you for all that you do in support of this effort, and in support of RFB&D. – Brad Thomas, RFB&D Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy