History was in the making today at the House passage of the ADA Amendments Act. The first Americans with Disabilities Act rocked the nation and over the past 18 years has literally changed the face of the country. Accessible architecture, elevators, ramps, accessible buses and taxis, meaningful access to programs and public places. The ADA Amendments Act is legislation worthy of following the original ADA. And in fact, it in many ways does that, in that it heralds a return to the original intent of the 1991 American’s with Disabilities Act.
Over the past few years, the U.S. court system has slowly narrowed the scope of the ADA limiting who has access to and protection of the ADA. Slowly, individuals with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, HIV and certain mental health and neurological conditions were denied protection from discrimination. The ADA Amendments Act reiterates what the the law was originally meant to attain, elimination (and prevention) of discrimination on the basis of disability. People shouldn’t have to choose between taking their medications and being protected by the law; individuals with intellectual disabilities should not be denied use of the ADA when they have been successful in their efforts to lead independent lives.
This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass this legislation. Just last week, the Senate passed it by unanimous consent. Now the bill goes to the President for his signature. At this point, it looks like signing of the bill could take place as early as next week and it is rumored that President George Bush, Sr. who signed the orginal ADA will be present for this new legislation.
I lament that I was not able to attend the event today or the rally held outside the Capitol. However, would like to express my thanks to all involved and express my pride in the community (business and disability) for working to make this happen.
-Posted from the Los Angeles Airport