The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 25 on July 26th. The ADA, a civil rights law passed in 1990, “prohibits discrimination in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public” (ADA National Network). But, while the law is nearly 25 years old, there is still much work to be done to ensure people with disabilities are able to fully access all areas of community life.
In order to keep the Americans with Disabilities Act at the forefront of public policy and to emphasize its importance not only to people with disabilities but to everyone interested in civil rights, celebrations are happening all across the country with the ADA Legacy Bus Tour.
The ADA Legacy Bus has traveled across the United States and features information and displays on the history of disability rights. When the bus stops in your town, you can add your name to the ADA quilt, meet disability rights dignitaries such as Tom Olin, a photographic chronicler of the disability rights movement, and local champions of the ADA in your community.
Here in Missoula, the bus stopped at Caras Park on the 4th of July to remind us that Independence Day is a living holiday. About 250 people attended the event and visited the bus. On site were ten staff from the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities who provided information on RI services and handed out much-needed water bottles in record-breaking heat. Bob Liston, a newly retired RTC: Rural staff member and long time disability rights advocate, gave an impassioned address and reminded us that on the 4th, we celebrate a seminal moment in the history of the US but also recognize that it is an ongoing call to action to ensure the civil liberties of people with disabilities and to continue to strive for full inclusion in life’s activities for everyone.