July 26: Americans with Disabilities Act

TRCF’s Social Justice Calendar series celebrates the days, weeks, and months that have been dedicated to human rights issues. By highlighting these lesser known but equally important holidays, TRCF hopes to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle for social justice marked by these occasions. 

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Twenty-two years ago today, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. The ADA made it illegal to discriminate against people with physical or mental disabilities in employment, public transportation, commercial facilities, and other areas.

The ADA had two major effects. First, it made schools, buses, churches, and businesses more accessible to people with disabilities. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it reminded everyone that people with disabilities are not any less human than other people, nor do they deserve fewer rights. Equality does not depend on what you can and can’t do.

While we’ve come a long way as a society, we still have a ways to go. We’re changing the physical structures that deny equal mobility to people with disabilities, but we need to change the social structures that prevent disabled people from having equal access to society as well.

Discrimination is a product of ignorance. To truly create social change, we need to understand what challenges people with disabilities face everyday. The Disability Rights Commission’s short film Talk presents “a society in which non-disabled people are a pitied minority and disabled people lead full and active lives.” What’s it like to live in a place where everyone judges you by your ability?

Watch the video below.

Talk, Part 1:

Talk, Part 2:

Learn more about the ADA here.