Monday, September 16, 2013

Tony Coelho Author Of The ADA

I Don't Care! The witnesses spoke of their own experiences with discrimination. A young woman who has cerebral palsy, told the Senators about a local movie theater that would not let her attend because of her disability. When her mother called the theater to protest that this attitude "sounded like discrimination," the theater owner stated "I don't care what it sounds like." This story became a symbol for the ADA and was mentioned throughout the floor debates and at the signing. The members and the President related this story to demonstrate that America "does care what it sounds like" and will no longer tolerate this type of discrimination. Interview with Bobby Coward. I'm a United States Air Force vet. I suffered a spinal cord injury in 1991 as a result of an auto accident. In which I tried to reenter my career field in aviation maintenance, technology- aircraft mechanic. Real good at it, too. And as a result of me not being able to turn a wrench, my country deemed me unemployable, unfit for society. And the ADA would guarantee that I'm fit for society. What does the 20th anniversary of the ADA mean to you? The 20th anniversary of the ADA means that I have the right in the United States of America, as well as other Americans do, to reside in the community with civil rights and civil liberties that everyone else has. It's my foundation that ensures that my rights are guaranteed. How has the ADA affected your life? The ADA has affected me in such ways, since I suffered my spinal cord injury in 1991, that will provide me with full inclusion into society, not more focused in the District of Columbia. You know, that's my focus when I was denied access into buildings, access into transportation... I share a particular story with you that will kind of define what it means to me. As an African American, my senior leaders tell me, educate me on a time when African Americans were-had to ride in the back of the bus. And now with the ADA, now I know my senior leaders within the disability movement share with me that, at that time, individuals with disabilities weren't able to get on the bus. And this applied to this day. So what the ADA means to me is that now I am able to ride on the bus or take any other public transportation options that are available to the general public. So it means that I am included in society again. What changes have you seen as a result of the ADA? I've seen significant legislative changes for inclusion of persons with disabilities around access, around benefits, transportation, employment, housing. I've seen enforcement of these rights. Actually, in my community, I see a lot of signage, I see awareness among the general public of the ADA and persons with disabilities. What still needs to be done regarding the ADA? Education. Education of the new leadership that's coming into Congress. Education of industry types, industrial, Realtors, the medical profession, around persons with disabilities. And the awareness, we need more enforcement, we need more opportunities for economic development. And we also, we just need, a general campaign that will target society as a whole, so they could understand that being disabled is not a sickness, it's just a dexterity, a physical condition. That we are very much a part of society, we are not deemed unfit for society; and that needs to be changed.

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