It often surprises me how many people in the disabled community, when asked, have never heard of Justin Dart. I've been disabled my whole life and it wasn't until my mid-30s while working at an independent living center that I learned about Dart. Who he was, and what a large contribution he made to securing the Americans With Disabilities Act. In fact, he is referred to as the “father of the ADA” because he was an influential leader in the disability rights movement for nearly 40 years.
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.
The signing of the ADA into law on July 26, 1990, was the culmination of a decades-long effort on behalf of thousands of people with disabilities and their allies and advocates. Getting disability rights legislation into public policy was not an easy task, mostly, because first policy makers had to be made aware of the discrimination that people with disabilities faced in their everyday lives. They had to have their eyes opened to the reality that the promises of prosperity and equality written in the constitution for all Americans, wasn’t being fulfilled for a whole class of people: those with disabilities.