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The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is celebrating the 33rd Anniversary of its enactment. Today many citizens take for granted amenities and civil liberties that did not exist prior to the enactment of this important legislation. This enactment has been hailed as a major milestone toward fair and just opportunities for all. This was the first legislation of its kind to outlaw discrimination based upon physical or mental disabilities.

If you have appreciated having yours or a loved one’s handicapped placard protected by stiff penalties and policing and been relieved to walk through an accessible door or utilize an accessible restroom you have the ADA to thank. Protection against discrimination in hiring practices was created by this legislation as well. Advocates are hard at work encouraging policy makers and elected officials to strongly recommit to supporting disability rights.

I have noticed that not all businesses and buildings are up to date with these practices. Whenever I encounter this I let folks know that I prefer giving my business to disability friendly locations. I also praise those that have best practices in this arena. Everyone should have to try getting a wheelchair or transport chair through a heavy and difficult door to increase understanding.

Discrimination still exists in healthcare. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has studied the many ways in which disabled persons were undervalued when healthcare went first to people without disabilities. This was very apparent when it came to testing supplies and ventilators among other key protections. As a result of these studies the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has created the RWJF National Commission to create solutions. What can we do? Make our voices heard and remind everyone that a society has a responsibility to care for its most vulnerable citizens. For further information go to their website at rwjf.org.  

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