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Birmingham Celebrates the Americans with Disability Act 25-Year Anniversary, May 19
Birmingham, AL – Referred to as Ground Zero for the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham will commemorate the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) 25th Anniversary from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 19, using iconic Kelly Ingram Park and the Civil Rights District as a backdrop.
Enacted in 1990, the ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and areas open to the general public, while mandating the establishment of TDD/telephone relay services. Organizers explain that throughout 2015, sites across the country will participate in celebrating this landmark event as a way of bringing attention to the important work promoting equal opportunity for people with disabilities.
“I am proud to celebrate the ADA’s 25-year anniversary,” states the Governor’s Office On Disabilities (GOOD) Executive Director Graham Sisson, who specializes in administrative, employment and disability law and who chaired the agency collaboration and activity coordination specific to Birmingham. “It has definitely made a positive difference in my life. GOOD is happy to be a partner in the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the ADA, which focuses on the progress made under that law and on what remains to be done.”
“The Americans with Disabilities Act is among the most important civil rights laws passed in the last quarter century,” explains Disability Rights and Resources Executive Director Dan Kessler. “To quote President Bush when he signed the ADA in 1990, ‘Let the shameful wall of exclusion come tumbling down.’ Movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other places are certainly more accessible than they were 25 years ago. But we still have a long way to go. People with disabilities still live in institutions against their will. Too many people with disabilities who want to work are denied employment. The ADA25 Legacy Tour reminds us of where we have been and the work we have ahead of us.”
“Like with the development and passing of ADA, many private, public, local, state and national agencies have collaborated to create an agenda of ADA25 Celebration events to highlight the abilities of individuals with disabilities while showcasing the distinct civil rights history of Birmingham,” explains Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) President Dr. John Mascia. “The significance to Alabamians who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, deafblind and/or multidisabled cannot be overstated, and AIDB is proud to be a partner of the continued legacy of removing barriers and empowering people.”
The Birmingham ADA25 Celebration is slated for May 19, at Kelly Ingram Park in the Civil Rights District across from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and is free and open to the public. Sixteenth Street between 5th and 6th Avenues North will be blocked off to a create a safe space for vendors and event attendees and the 35-foot photo-wrapped ADA Legacy Tour Road to Freedom bus that houses historic exhibits on disability from the last 25-years and features renowned photographer Tom Olin. American Sign Language Interpreters will be provided.
Partnering agencies like the Birmingham Museum of Art are offering several programs in May to highlight the ADA25 Celebration and to engage the general public. On May 9 at 1 p.m., a special public tour explores the work of famous artists with disabilities like Claude Monet, Dale Chihuly, and Josiah Wedgwood. The tour is offered again for adults with vision loss on May 9 at 10 a.m. and on May 27 at 1 p.m. On May 19, at Noon, exhibitions designer Terry Beckham and assistant curator of education Kristi McMillan present Accessibility for All at the BMA.
“This ArtBreak considers how we use universal design and other strategies to foster a welcoming and inclusive museum environment,” notes McMillan. “For example, this month verbal descriptions are being added to the BMA smartguide for 12 artworks on the Museum highlights tour. Verbal description, a way of using words to represent the visual world, enables visitors who are blind or visually impaired to form a mental image of what they can’t see. We’re excited to offer these programs through the ADA25 Celebration and to bring awareness regarding the phenomenal capabilities of artists with disabilities.” For more information about these programs, visit www.artsbma.org.
“Creating awareness about the daily challenges people with disabilities face is crucially important, and that is what this bus tour is all about,” said Kathy Lovell, Americans with Disabilities Act Manager for Regions Bank. “The private sector has a tremendous opportunity to open up a dialogue between our companies and the broad community of people with disabilities. Those conversations allow us to solve problems and make everyday activities both achievable and convenient for people with disabilities. At Regions, we are excited to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ADA, and we also know there is still work to be done.”
“Twenty-five years ago, this nation, through the Americans with Disabilities Act, set an aim of eliminating discrimination against those with disabilities,” states U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. “This office and the Department of Justice are committed to achieving this goal, and are proud to join with the disability rights community, on the act’s twenty-fifth anniversary, in celebrating the significant progress that has been made, as well as in recognizing the work that remains to be done.”
More About ADA, The Legacy Tour and Road to Freedom
The ADA Legacy Tour is a traveling exhibit designed to raise public awareness and generate excitement about ADA25. It is produced by The ADA Legacy Project, Disability Rights Center, ADA National Network and the Museum of disABILITY History. Launched at the Abilities Expo Houston on July 25-27, 2014, the year-long tour will culminate in Washington, D.C., on July 26, 2015, exactly 25 years after President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law. The tour will visit nearly 60 cities along the way (www.adalegacy.com/ada25/ada-legacy-tour).
To learn more about events in Alabama celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the ADA, visit www.drradvocates.org (flyer attached). Like ADA25 Alabama on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/25thanniversaryalabama.
Event coordinators include the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP), www.adap.net; Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), www.aidb.org; Birmingham Museum of Art, www.artsbma.org; City of Birmingham, www.birminghamal.gov; Disability Rights and Resources, www.drradvocates.org; Governor’s Office On Disability, www.good.alabama.gov; Lakeshore Foundation, www.lakeshore.org, MAX Transit, www.bjcta.org; National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), www.nchpad.org; People First, peoplefirstofalabama.com; Regions Bank, www.regionsbank.com; University of Alabama at Birmingham, www.uab.edu; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Alabama, www.justice.gov/usao-ndal.