ADA

Toward Independence Report Issued: A Precursor to the ADA

Toward Independence Report Issued: A Precursor to the ADA

Four years prior to the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a report called Toward Independence was issued by the National Council on Disability (NCD), based in Washington D.C. The Council is comprised of roughly a dozen council members, and led and supported by an Executive Director, legislative and administrative support staff. The NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.

As described on its website, the NCD works to fulfill its mission by NCD fulfills its advisory roles regarding disability policies, programs, procedures, and practices that enhance equal opportunity by:

  • Convening stakeholders to acquire timely and relevant input for recommendations and action steps

  • Gathering and analyzing data and other information

  • Engaging and influencing current debates and agendas

  • Identifying and formulating solutions to emerging and long-standing challenges; and

  • Providing tools to facilitate effective implementation

Discrimination Diaries

Discrimination Diaries

It's hard to underscore the importance of the personal testimonies of Discrimination Diaries that lead to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just hearing statistics and third person references about being disabled isn't the same thing as hearing what living with a disability is like, directly from someone who is living it.

April 1988, Justin Dart, then Chair of the Congressional Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of People with Disabilities, began traveling the country (at his own expense) to hold public hearings to gather evidence to support the need for broad anti-discrimination protections. The documents and audio recordings became the collective Discrimination Diaries. The forums were attended by thousands of people willing to step forward and document the injustice and discrimination they faced due to their disability. 63 forums were held in total, one in every state, including the territory of Guam. 

Civil Rights protections for disabled people was a key purpose of the ADA. To learn what needed to be included in the law, the disability community was asked to testify about how they are discriminated against in all areas of daily life. People were asked not only to describe physical barriers to access they encountered, but also societal prejudices and biases.

Key Disability Rights Cases

Key Disability Rights Cases

On the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it seems appropriate to look back to some of the key disability rights cases that have been decided since the law was passed. If anyone tries to tell you, disabled or not, that the rights of access and equality that have been achieved for disabled people for the over the course of the last 50-60 years are locked in forever, immune to legal challenges or regulatory roll backs, don't believe them. Because it is just. not. true.

Take for example, the most recent passage of HR 620 in the US House of Representatives. Known as the 2017 ADA Education and Reform Act, its purpose is to amend the 1990 ADA law, requiring a "notice and cure" period whereby a person asserting their civil rights are being infringed would have to provide a written notice to business owners, and they would be allowed time to respond.