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ADA Turns 30

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

The Americans with Disabilities Act turned 30 this month.

President George H.W. Bush signed the bill into law on July 26, 1990. Holly Williams is the Director of Area Agency on Aging and Disability with the UCDD. She said the law has been a game changer.

“The impact that the Americans with Disabilities Act has had,” Williams said, “has made significant changes to how that population lives each day, how they receive services, and employment opportunities, etc. It has made a major impact on that population.”

In addition to the visible changes, such as to access to buildings, Williams said there have been innumerable changes people do not always think about. She said access to services and the elimination of discrimination are perhaps the greatest legacies of the ADA.

“The ADA made it unlawful for discrimination in state and local government services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications,” Williams said. “That all became unlawful to discriminate against anyone with disabilities receiving those services.”

Employment opportunities is something Williams said benefited the community with the ADA’s passage. She said it was a way to reduce poverty among disabled persons.

“Aside from the services that have been impacted, the employment opportunities that have been given those with disabilities are a great legacy,” Williams said.

According to Williams, the importance of the ADA is still being felt today. She said benefits can still expand if people perform their civic duties.

“I think it is very important for everyone to make sure to they are counted,” Williams said. “Because it’s not just those with disabilities, but for all individuals so we can ensure our community here in the Upper Cumberland, especially can receive their fair share of our federal and state funds to support education, to support services for those with disabilities, low income elderly, etc.”

In addition to filling out the 2020 Census, Williams said the voices of the disabled community need to be heard at the ballot box. She urges people to vote for those that will best represent their needs.

“It’s just as important for each person to vote,” Williams said, “and vote for those that support policies that benefit individuals with disabilities. It’s very important for us to do those things and educate the public in general, our current elected officials about how to effectively support those with disabilities. We just have to make sure that they have access to the services they need and when they need them so they can remain as independent as possible, and to reduce the stigma around disability.”


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