Celebrating The 25th Anniversary Of The Americans With Disabilities Act

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on August 01, 2015 # Advocacy and Policy

As the nation celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this week, our friends at the ACL continues their guest blog series with blogs from leaders in the disability community.

In this blog, Judith Heumann, a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people and the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State, reflects on the significance of the intergenerational independent living movement that preceded the passage of the ADA and on the importance of inclusion and integration for all people around the world, regardless of age or disability.

Yes, we did! And there’s more to do.

By Judy Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, U.S. Department of State

July 26 has the stature of a national holiday for anyone in the disability rights movement. For those of us who are part of the independent living movement, June 22 resonates just as much as the ADA anniversary. On that day in 1999 the Supreme Court rejected the state of Georgia's appeal to enforce institutionalization of individuals with disabilities. The Olmstead decision reinforced Title II of the ADA and affirmed the right of individuals with disabilities to live in their community.

In 1973 when I left Brooklyn, New York, having spent many years as an activist with Disabled in Action, I traveled to Berkeley, California to attend graduate school at UC Berkeley. It was there that I got involved in the development of the first Center for Independent Living (CIL). I was 26 years old and thinking very little about life as an older person with a disability. When I joined the CIL Board, I began to understand that the concept of linking activism with efforts to improve service delivery systems cut across generations.

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The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.