The Americans with Disabilities Act proved to be a revolutionary tool that strengthened the U.S. workforce, made society more inclusive and improved the lives of millions of people with disabilities.
That was U.S. Atty. Edward Stanton’s assessment, shared at the 26th anniversary celebration of the federal law’s passage. His speech was one highlight of the gathering at Memphis City Hall, which was sponsored by The Arc Mid-South.
The 1990 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications and governmental activities. But even 26 years later, not everyone appears to have gotten the message.
Since 2011, Stanton’s West Tennessee office has prosecuted several large restaurant chains that lacked parking, restrooms and ramps to make their facilities accessible to people with disabilities. Hospitals have been held accountable for not having interpreters for the hearing impaired; in one case, a deaf patient could not communicate with medical personnel for two weeks! And numerous eateries have been reprimanded for barring service animals who assist the visually impaired..
Stanton referenced the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., saying “Life’s most persistent, urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’ “
The ADA’s importance was underscored by an audience member, who recounted a recent trip to Thailand. Anna Whalley, who uses a walker because of arthritis, recalled not seeing any Thais with disabilities, probably because the Asian country lacked ramps and other public assistive devices. “People with disabilities just stayed in their houses. It was shocking,” Whalley said. “I missed all the things we take for granted in this country.”
July 26, 2015 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Arc Mid-South celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with its own parade in downtown Memphis on July 22, 2015. The commemorative parade began at City Hall and worked its way along Main Street.
“Downtown Memphis will never be the same,” said Carlene Leaper, Executive Director of The Arc Mid-South. “Especially today, it was a proud moment to have a parade of people marching and celebrating the milestone of having full inclusion of all people, both those with and without disabilities, in all aspects of society.”
At the concluding rally held at Central Station, Leaper received many questions from many spectators about the ADA. “Thanks to the parade, the Memphis community got a taste not only of the history and importance of the ADA but also The Arc and its services,” she said.
Since 1950, The Arc Mid-South (originally known as MARC) has shaped the landscape for individuals with disabilities by providing free, confidential and accurate information, resources and training to businesses, employers, and state and local governments on their responsibilities under the ADA. The Arc also provides free and confidential answers to questions asked by people with disabilities, their families and other advocates, as well as other community members living across Shelby County and throughout Tennessee.
The ADA was signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those protections provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA and ADAAA assures equal opportunities to these individuals with regards to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.
A collection of photos from the parade celebration are available online. Please click on link and enjoy the celebration: https://picasaweb.google.com/103197845898565476050/TheADACelebrationParadeKickOffLeadByTheArcMidSouth?authuser=0&feat=directlink
For more information about The Arc Mid-South, call (901) 327-2473 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Arc Mid-South is located at 3485 Poplar Avenue, Suite 210; Memphis, TN 38111.