“… Let these terrible walls of exclusion come tumbling down …” said President Bush on July 26th, 1990, at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Those metaphorical walls of exclusion and most of the physical and programmatic barriers have come tumbling down. While my life and the lives of 61 million other Americans with Disabilities are measurably better because of the ADA, we still have lots of work to do. This labor includes both existing and future barriers that are keeping parts of the wall of exclusion up.
The ADA skillfully merged 25 years of federal anti-discrimination laws into an umbrella platform that included the private sector. For the first time in world history, we had a framework of inclusion and accessibility standards to chip away at the ugly and overt discrimination faced by persons with disabilities. This framework is now one the rest of the world is replicating. The ADA could be considered a modern-day implementation of the Manifest Destiny that Americans took advantage of a century before. They all sought greater independence, more freedom, and more choices to achieve the American dream.