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A message from ECI Board President, Lisbet Dula

A little American history….Women got the right to vote in America in 1920, after a long suffrage movement of educating legislators, holding rallies, marches and various acts of civil disobedience. Even then, not all women were given this right. African American women and other minority women were left out at first. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 began providing rights and protection for all citizens to vote, including allowing persons with disabilities to select a person to assist us to cast our vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 declared that discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and gender was no longer allowed – no separation in where you could sit in a restaurant or on a bus, and gave protections against employment discrimination. However, people were disabilities were not part of this protection.

Our turn came in 1973 with Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, which required that any program or service receiving federal funding be accessible. Yet, this only covered what was federally funded. What about everything else?  Shopping malls, stores, state and local courts and government, non-federally funded hospitals, city sidewalks, doctor offices, rec centers, hotels, etc. etc. etc? All the places people may want to or need to go during their daily lives still legally did not have to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Many, many advocates and disability organizations across America successfully fought for and won passage of the ADA. This was done through rallies, marches, educating legislators, and various acts of civil disobedience over a period of years. Finally in 1990, we had our own civil rights law! The whole community opened up to us when the ADA was passed. We fought hard to get these rights, and we use them every day in all our activities and in working toward our goals. This is something to celebrate!!!  This is our independence! Take time to learn about your ADA rights and then tell others. The anniversary of the signing of the ADA is July 26.  How will you celebrate our independence day???

If you would like to learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act, please come to the July 26 Advocacy Group Meeting.

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