Memphis, TN – The Arc Mid-South joined with advocates across the city to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26th, 2012 at Hudson Hall in Central Station. This landmark civil rights law was created to eliminate discrimination against people based on their disability. The event, entitled "Celebrate, Defend, Enforce" was a collaboration by The Arc Mid-South, MATA, the Memphis Center for Independent Living (MCIL), the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Tennessee Career Centers, and the Workforce Investment Network (WIN) and Yellow Cab.
The ADA protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, privately operated public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, stores, museums, etc.), transportation, and telecommunications. A person with a disability, as defined by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major bodily functions or major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is regarded as having an impairment.
The Arc, which advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), is a nationally known and recognized network of over 700 chapters across the country. The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with I/DD by actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes without regard to diagnosis.
“Since 1950, The Arc Mid-South and its national and state chapters have been the ‘go-to’ resource including ADA information, training and technical assistance to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA throughout the Mid-South,” says Carlene I. Leaper, Executive Director of The Arc Mid-South. “People with disabilities are an integral and vital part of our diverse society and our communities. The Arc Mid-South is honored to serve as an ADA resource for individuals and families and to promote the full inclusion and participation of the more than 54 million - or 1 in 5 - Americans with disabilities.”
The ADA’s integration mandate has helped many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities leave institutions and move to community based settings. However, there are still many individuals living in nursing homes and receiving services in other types of institutional settings who could and who want to live in more integrated settings.
Although there is still work to be done, the last 22 years of advocacy for individuals with disabilities of all kinds have built a strong foundation of inclusion in society.