On November 15, 2007, two girl gangs decided to have a beat down outside of the classroom of Spanish teacher Isabel Vasquez-Gil. The Dean of Students could not allow violence on the school grounds. The melee and stampede that occurred when MPD dispersed the crowd and broke up the altercation disabled the Dean’s right arm and shoulder and sent him to the hospital. A perfectly healthy school administrator was disabled by senseless violence.
These types of injuries happen all the time. Superman actor Christopher Reeve was injured in a horse competition in 1995 that left him totally disabled. He spent the next ten years of his life in a wheel chair. He bravely fought to regain his ability to walk. Although he died before he could achieve this dream, he brought great awareness and funding to support research to help Americans with disabilities.
Able-bodied and healthy Americans race to the top of their career fields. They run through traffic, down streets, and to their respective offices without a thought of what it means to have a body part useless or paralyzed. The November 15, 2007, injury required two surgeries and a year of physical therapy to regain the full use of the damaged body parts. It was a time to think about Reeve and the millions of Americans who deal with living with a disability for the rest of their lives.
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to let Americans know that this society would not discard or leave injured or disabled Americans behind. The compassion that Republican president George H.W. Bush talked about, in his administration, was reflected in the ADA law that he signed to make certain that every injured or permanently disabled American was not thrown under the bus because of a disability.
“I also want to say a special word to our friends in the business community. “You have in your hands the key to the success of this act, for you can unlock a splendid resource of untapped human potential that, when freed, will enrich us all. I know there have been concerns that the ADA may be vague or costly, or may lead endlessly to litigation. But I want to reassure you right now that my administration and the United States Congress have carefully crafted this Act. We’ve all been determined to ensure that it gives flexibility, particularly in terms of the timetable of implementation, and we’ve been committed to containing the costs that may be incurred,” Bush said.
Today America celebrates 25 years of compassion for those disabled Americans. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees them equal rights. It is the law that makes certain that employers do not fire or use discrimination against employees who are disabled. “At the heart of the ADA is the idea that the places we all share are for everyone — whether you are a person living with disability or not. This powerful idea has helped the Department improve the quality of life for millions of Pennsylvanians and millions more across the country over the past 25 years and we all are all better off as a result. While we still have work to do, we have made a great deal of progress since ADA became law,” said Pennsylvania DHS Secretary Ted Dallas.
“This act is powerful in its simplicity. It will ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and so hard: independence, freedom of choice, control of their lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream. Legally, it will provide our disabled community with a powerful expansion of protections and then basic civil rights. It will guarantee fair and just access to the fruits of American life which we all must be able to enjoy. And then, specifically, first the ADA ensures that employers covered by the act cannot discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. Second, the ADA ensures access to public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and offices. And third, the ADA ensures expanded access to transportation services. And fourth, the ADA ensures equivalent telephone services for people with speech or hearing impediments,” Bush said.
“With approximately 56.7 million Americans living with a disability and an estimated 21.6 million Americans living with a substance use disorder, we are a significant portion of the US population. 12 Despite our numbers, we still face stigma and discrimination in healthcare, education, housing, and employment. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is working to dismantle the stigma experienced by individuals with substance use disorders, just as the National Council on Disability (NCD) and many others are working to abolish discrimination and stigma surrounding all disabilities. If we combine our numbers, our voices, and our collective experience, we have the opportunity to make our voices heard in all walks of life,” the White House said.
Today America celebrates 25 years of a law that changed lives for the better in service to a great nation.