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Monday, July 17, 2017

Countdown to the ADA signing anniversary July 26th - AAPD Speaks to John Kemp - (video)

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) released video's leading up to July 26, (in 2010) the 20th anniversary of the ADA....

YouTube Uploaded by AAPD video on Jul 7, 2010


What does the 20th anniversary of the ADA mean to you?
I can't believe it's been 20 years since the passage of the ADA. I came to Washington DC about 30 days before the passage of the ADA, though I was working on it from Chicago where I was working with Easter Seals. As the Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy, I became very involved immediately on Hill visits with Justin Dart and other leaders, jumped right in. And when the ADA celebration happened, it was one of the most inspiring, emotional days of my life. I just cannot believe it's been 20 years. The ADA means to me, promise and opportunity, it doesn't mean we are guaranteed anything other than our fundamental civil rights. To achieve in this world, we have to prove to ourselves and prove it to others that we are capable and qualified to be able to be on the stage with everyone else, and I think that's the best part of the ADA. We are still responsible for ourselves, but it guarantees our civil rights.

What was it like for you living with a disability in the United States before the ADA?

Before the ADA, life was very much different. I attended a regular school, which was very unusual for kids with disabilities in the middle 50s. I was born in 1949 without arms and legs and lived a regular, integrated, inclusive life. And when I went to school, grade school for the first time, it was a choice that the school was making to allow me to attend. I had no civil rights what so ever to attend that school, they allowed me to attend. I had to figure out how to get along, how to pass, how to keep up with everything that was going on. And It was probably something that was good for me, but not necessarily one that assured me of my civil rights at all. I never really knew how precarious it was for me to be able to attend that school and possibly even be sent off to a different school until I got much older and realized how fortunate I was to be included in regular schools.

How were the passage of the ADA and the creation of AAPD related?

The ADA was passed in 1990, and shortly thereafter my good friend Paul Hearne and I spent a few evenings, okay we spent a lot of evenings, drinking beer and thinking about there ought to be an organization made up of individuals with disabilities, who can really promote the political and economic power of people with disabilities, all driven by the fact that we had the Americans with Disabilities Act. And Paul and I spent a lot of time we engaged a number of other people as co-founders we decided that it was time for an organization of individual members of primarily of people with disabilities to assert our political and economic power. And that's how the intertwining of the ADA and the AAPD really became about. It was the vision that was given to us by the passage of the ADA that allowed us to think that there could be an organization and should be an organization like AAPD. And all I can say is that AAPD has far exceeded my humblest expectations. It has done a fantastic job, I'm proud of Andy and the team, all the board members who have served in guiding and leading the organization to a wonderful place where it is today, the most respected cross-disability organization in the United States.

What changes do you think need to be made to the ADA?

There's still much more to be done with the ADA and with the amendments that was certainly empowering. I felt that we didn't clearly articulate that access to the Internet and the World Wide Web is a civil right. We could have done that and we didn't do it, for a number of political reasons. That still lies ahead of us. I also think that teaching individuals or helping individuals find themselves and find the dignity in having a disability is something that AAPD and all of us can help young people with, and certainly older people who have been living in denial as they age into disability are maybe afraid of the identity of disability, I would hope that they would find pride in being a person with a disability. AAPD can do that as well. There's much work and there will always be work to refine public policy, to make sure people with disabilities fully participate in the main stream of life, but for each of us we all have our own responsibilities of living up to our full potential and exercising all the freedoms that come with citizenship in America.

For The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD):
#originally posted July 2012

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