The Americans With Disabilities Act Isn’t Just About Wheelchair Ramps

The Americans With Disabilities Act Isn’t Just About Wheelchair Ramps

Over the past 30 years, it has profoundly changed the deaf community.

“For young people who have grown up with the ADA, the results of this landmark legislation are part of everyday life – sometimes in ways they may not even realize,” says Gerard Buckley, President of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Writing in The Conversation, Buckley continues:

I was there at the beginning. As a young deaf man in 1990, I attended the Rose Garden ADA signing ceremony. I clearly recall the sun was shining brilliantly and the joy among leaders in the disability community who had long worked to bring about this civil rights legislation.

“In the decades since, I have witnessed the ADA’s profound impact as an educator of deaf and hard-of-hearing students for this population and the U.S. as a whole.”

One example:

“In many ways, I feel the most important changes brought about by the legislation relate to making it easier for deaf people to communicate. In his book “A Phone of Our Own: The Deaf Insurrection Against Ma Bell,” historian Harry Lang described the long struggle in the deaf community to gain access to the telephone. The ADA provided a huge leap forward by requiring the establishment of nationwide telecommunications relay services. This system provided telephone access 24/7 to deaf citizens who previously had relied on volunteer services with limited hours. No longer would deaf individuals be excluded from employment opportunities requiring the use of the phone. And it enabled deaf people to participate in the mainstream of the American life by being free to call for pizza or to wish a loved one happy birthday.”

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