As we celebrate Labor Day this year, in a year different than all others before it, it is clearer than ever that work, employment is a need, not a luxury.
Thirty years ago this past July 26, President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA which among other things made it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability.
Justin Dart and Elizabeth Boggs co-chaired the congressionally appointed Task Force on Rights and Empowerment of People with Disabilities which led to the ADA. Elizabeth Boggs, a leader of The Arc for decades, reflected the commitment of our organization to the ADA’s passage.
The journey to the ADA was decades long, and we continue to work toward fulfilling its promise. In 1999, the Supreme Court’s hearing of Olmstead v. LC was one of its major tests. In 2008, the ADA improvement amendment act was passed.
Yet we continue to face backlash about the ADA, which can worsen during times of economic distress.
Justin Dart, a businessman, had contracted polio at age 18 years. Eventually he became a disability activist, co-founding the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). Justin once stated:
For whatever the law says legally, the clear promise of the ADA is that all people with disabilities will be fully equal, fully productive, fully prosperous, and fully welcome participants in the mainstream. Keeping the promise of the ADA is not going to be easy.
As we advocate during these difficult times, Justin’s appeal about the ADA’s promise can inspire us.