The Legacy of a Disability Champion

Together, we must remove the physical barriers we have created and the social barriers that we have accepted. For ours will never be a truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper.

– President George H.W. Bush

John Samuel wrote this blog last year after President George Bush passed away, but it was never posted. However, as we celebrate the 29th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act today, we thought it would be good to remember the champion behind the Bill. Wishing ALL Americans a happy ADA Day from LCI Tech!

George H.W. Bush, who died in November 2018, was probably best remembered, legislatively, for his 1990 budget deal. However, for many in the disability community, he is remembered for another bill, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which he signed in to Law on July 26, 1990.

He declared that the ADA would “open up all aspects of American life to individuals with disabilities—employment opportunities, government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications,” noting that the ADA is “comprehensive because the barriers faced by individuals with disabilities are wide-ranging.”

The ADA was not only signed for the disability community, but also to assist the business community, which he addressed in his remarks, “You’ve called for new sources of workers. Well, many of our fellow citizens with disabilities are unemployed. They want to work, and they can work, and this is a tremendous pool of people. And remember, this is a tremendous pool of people who will bring to jobs diversity, loyalty, proven low turnover rate, and only one request: the chance to prove themselves.”

When the ADA was enacted, the vast information infrastructure of the Internet that allows ready access to employment, health care, education, government services, goods and entertainment did not exist. Not uncommon, technology and the law did not develop simultaneously. Despite the Internet infiltrating every aspect of our lives, federal courts of appeals have split on the issue of whether the protections of the ADA reach goods and services provided solely via the Internet, leaving people with disabilities without a well-settled right to equal access to the internet.

Although our nation has made significant strides over the past three decades, we still have plenty of room for improvement, if we are to achieve President Bush’s vision for People with Disabilities. As business leaders, we must move at the speed of relevance, and be proactive, when it comes to the accessibility of the internet, which is now a necessity for work and life.

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