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End the duopoly

Blending equality into ‘the rich mosaic of the American mainstream’

This month marks three decades for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is the second in a series of columns about the historic legislation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law on July 26, 1990, sought to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in several areas — employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.

Testifying to its success, today few, if any, public spaces don’t contain proof of the extensive ADA footprint. Even the most unlikely bathroom at the most obscure state park bears the mark of adherence. You’ll find a grab bar installed by a 19-inch (max) tall toilet, right next to a wall-mounted sink with wrap pipes and 6 inches of foot clearance — all designed with wheelchair accessibility in mind.

Things were different when injured veterans returned from America’s world wars. Their attempts at coping in wheelchair-unfriendly public terrain made disability issues more visible, but decades would come and go before the movement garnered major success: passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That act, twice vetoed by President Nixon before his consent, was the first law to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. Seventeen […]

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