Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ADA Set to Celebrate 20 Years as Law

In the summer of 1990, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law of the land. Changes on that large a scale do not happen without the efforts of many. One of the trailblazers, Justin Dart, is widely recognized as the "father of the ADA." Born in 1930, Dart contracted polio at the age of 18 and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He led the movement for "disabilities rights" for over three decades. As an entrepreneur and civil rights activist, he received presidential appointments and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dart died in 2002 at age 71.

This summer, however, Dart will be remembered at the 20th anniversary celebration of the ADA at the U.S. Social Forum to be held in Detroit, June 22 - 26. The Detroit-based Matrix Theater Company is crafting a giant street puppet in Dart's likeness to be used in theater pieces, parades and demonstrations throughout the summer, debuting at the June event. The Matrix Theater involves the community, raising the $7500 needed to complete the project. Once the Dart puppet is built it will join the ranks of other Matrix masterpieces in the likeness of Martin Luther King, Mother Jones and Caesar Chavez. You can make a donation to Matrix at Facebook.

"If the giant Justin Dart puppet is used to communicate his cry for everyone to 'Lead the Revolution of Individual Empowerment' particularly to youth with disabilities, it would be awesome, and extremely meaningful and valuable," said Yoshiko Dart, his wife.
The ADA ensures accessibility to public places and work places for people with disabilities. Advocate groups for those with disabilities stay vigilant to businesses and community venues that do not abide by ADA guidelines, often challenging them in court and with lawsuits if necessary. The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition has current cases pending against Abercrombie & Fitch/Hollister Stores and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.
Ramps, sidewalk cutouts, and elevators are a way of life now. If you remember what things were like before ADA, share an experience.

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