Wednesday, August 25, 2010

20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act

Celebrations were held on July 23rd marking the anniversary of this ground breaking Americans with Disability Act. During former Attorney General Dick Thornburg’s address he echoed the words that were said by George Bush at the signing of ADA twenty-years ago, “let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down”, which in turn served as a call to action for advocates to continue their mission to achieve equal rights for those with disabilities.

At a national level in the 1960's and 1970's the civil rights movement in Ireland sought an end to discrimination against women and also the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland sought fair treatment by the state. However, the civil rights movement never 'took hold' within the disability community and the wave which pushed forward the agenda for other minorities on this island passed the disability community by with little or no impact or progress achieved.

Ireland was among the first countries to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on March 30th 2007. Then Justice Minister Michael McDowell said it would be ratified “as soon as possible”. We are still waiting for the shameful wall of exclusion to come tumbling down.

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