ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act came into being in 1990 and was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in July of that year.
Prior to the passage of the ADA, for example, most stores and malls were not wheelchair accessible and thus were not usable by persons with physical handicaps. The ubiquitous ramps at public buildings did not exist in most places so that even City Hall was essentially off limits for persons unable to walk. The extent of the disenfranchisement of disabled persons was wide spread prior to ADA.
The really sad thing about the discrimination against the disabled was that most people were unaware of that discrimination. Since they were not able to get into public places easily, the disabled were not clearly visible to most Americans, and the ones who were in public were thought of as aberrations and not a common part of society.
Even President Franklin Roosevelt, a wheel chair bound polio victim, kept his disability hidden from the general public as much as was possible, because such a disability would have been thought to make him unable to be a leader. ADA would have greatly benefitted Roosevelt as it has benefitted people today.
The ADA includes disabilities which are permanent in nature rather than transitory.
For example, a person who is sight impaired whose vision can be corrected with prescription lenses would not be considered disabled while the person whose vision cannot be made right would. Another example would be those persons who are substance abusers and thus make themselves unable to participate in common life activities is not considered to be disabled under ADA. At first many thought that the ADA would be a destructive force in America.
As it has turned out this has not been the case. Having access to normal activities for all Americans has increased the access for everyone. Being able to go to the great national forests without having to be a wilderness expert has opened the parks of America to many who would otherwise never gone. ADA has helped all peoples in America, with or without disabilities.
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