by Marian Vessels, Director, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Ah, 22 years ago on a hot and steamy July day, several thousand ardent disability advocates gathered on the White House lawn to witness the signing of the ADA. I remember how excited we all were to witness such an auspicious occasion. There was truly an electric feeling that flowed through the crowd. People from all over the country traveled to the nation’s capital to be a part of this momentous occasion. It was an honor to witness history in the making, as those of us with disabilities now had a civil rights law that would support equality in a variety of settings, and allow us to participate in all aspects of American life.
The ADA has undergone a much needed update in the last few years, giving the ADA Center the rare opportunity to reintroduce all of you to this unique civil rights law. The ADA continues to be challenged in Congress with several bills threatening to weaken the basis of the ADA. For example, almost all of you have heard about the swimming pool lift controversy; the Department of Justice’s revised regulations specifically described the requirement to install permanent lifts at pools if it was reasonable and practical to do so. Many in the hotel and business community mounted a campaign to reverse this regulation and succeeded in getting the regulation delayed until January 2013. Many in the disability community are now mounting their own campaign to protest the movement to limit their use of pools in communities and lodging.
As a person with a mobility disability who has to travel for work, the idea that I soon will be able to get into a pool independently and exercise after a long day of work on the road is very exciting. No matter what your opinion is on the pool lift issue, we here at the ADA Center encourage you to exercise your right to let Congress know your views on this issue.
As always, our work here at the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center is to answer your questions regarding the ADA and provide a host of services and resources via our toll-free telephone, e-mail, on-line, and social media. Our expertise as a Center spans 15 years; however the experience of several our staff exceeds this by many more years! We will continue to keep you apprised of news and information regarding all aspects of the ADA. We encourage you to reach out to us with your questions or training needs.
It is my expectation that the ADA will remain the fair and balanced law that was put forth and signed 22 years ago.
Ms. Vessels is Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Serving in this role since 1996, among her primary areas of expertise are training and technical assistance on the ADA as it relates to employment, state and local government issues and the hospitality industry. She is in considerable demand as a speaker and trainer.