It wasn’t until 1990 that civil rights legislation was passed to protect people with disabilities in the U.S.
And this weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, more commonly known as ADA.
Royce Schultze, Director of the Dakota Center for Independent Living, says the two most important pieces of the law are employment and accessibility– requiring all buildings built after 1990 to be reachable for those with disabilities, and employers cannot discriminate in the hiring process.
Schultze says it’s made life easier but there’s more that could be done, like requiring an electric door at all businesses and public facilities.
“I remember back in the days before all this, to go into a restaurant, to go into a bar, I couldn’t count the number of times I had to get lifted in and out, you know…get carried up the steps. I went to a clinic in a small town. The doctor had to come out to my car to do the examination,” Schultze shared.
Erin Pasley is the President of Youth Empowering Social Status, a program within the Center for Independent Living.
She added, “Even though the ADA exists, barriers are still there and employment can be very hard. But it’s just that education component to tell your employer, ‘Yes I live with this disability, but here’s how I’m going to do the job. It may have to be done a little differently, but I’m going to get it done and I’m going to do it well.'”
Schultze says there are still so many things that aren’t convenient at all for him to attend, like concerts and rodeos.