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LETTERS: 22 years later: Americans with Disability Act

To the editor:

Twenty two years ago, the world – well at least the United States – was quite a different place.

In 1990 gas was $1.34 a gallon, women wore oversized sweaters and slouch socks, cellphones were called car phones, a favorite movie may have been “Home Alone,” “Good Fellas,” or “Edward Scissorhands” and Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a championship.

It really does seem like yesterday.

Prior to 1990, there was something that you didn’t always see – especially in public places like stadiums, movie theaters, restaurants and certainly driving a car. That was a person with a disability.

It was on July 26, 1990 when President George H. Bush signed the Americans with Disability Act, and at his side were Evan Kemp and Justin Dart. Two strong advocates for people with disabilities and two people who had experienced discrimination throughout their lifetime because they used wheelchairs or they had disabilities.

The signing of the Americans with Disability Act was the equivalent to lifting shackles off a wrongfully-accused prisoner. It was freedom.

I remember in January 1991, the ARC and the Madison County Community Coalition for the Elderly held a joint town meeting to discuss the ADA and what it meant for our community. A gentleman spoke about his life in a wheelchair. He said that when he approached a business that had an eight-inch step it was a sign that they didn’t “serve the handicapped.” We have come a long way since then.

Is it a perfect world? No, there are still improvements that need to be made.

But, the awareness that the Americans with Disability Act has brought to our world is great. All people, people who stand tall or people who are in wheelchairs, it doesn’t matter; all people are equal.

Ray Lewandowski

Executive Director, Madison Cortland ARC

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