19th Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act

7/16/2009

Governor proclaims July 15, Americans with Disabilities Act Day

In honor of the 19th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed July 15, 2009 American with Disabilities Act Day and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) sponsored a special event celebrating Illinois' commitment to ADA. The state's celebration entitled, "ADA Era for Change" highlighted the talents and accomplishments of persons with disabilities through an art exhibit, entertainment provided by performers with disabilities, hands-on art activities, exhibits, workshops, and a three-on-three wheelchair basketball exhibition. The Chicago 2016 Committee showcased Paralympic athletics with a sports demonstration. The annual event was held from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph Street in Chicago.

The "ADA Era for Change" celebration encourages the state and persons with disabilities to work together in the same spirit that accompanied the original enactment of this law.

This celebration demonstrates everyone's ability in order to achieve a greater understanding of the contributions of persons with disabilities in Illinois. It also serves as a reminder to every citizen of the importance of civil rights protections for Illinois residents and facilitates broader awareness about an inclusive society.

"Illinois has over two million citizens with some level of disability, representing 13 percent of the state's population. We are committed to continuing efforts to ensure that people with disabilities are able to fully participate in employment, transportation, education, communication and community opportunities," said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams Ph.D.

For the last 19 years, IDHS has joined with a coalition of other state agencies and councils to sponsor a statewide event commemorating the passage of the ADA. The celebration not only recognizes the accomplishments of people with disabilities, it shows how state agencies, programs and other organizations have worked to implement the law. Illinois has a long standing history of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, going back 27 years to the passage of the Illinois Human Rights Act (December 6, 1979), which prohibits discrimination against any person with a "physical or mental disability."

This year's celebration featured workshops focusing on creating low-cost assistive technology devices; an ADA Amendments Act update; hot topics on employment and the ADA; and how to obtain state employment. Participants were able to pose questions to the presenters regarding issues in their own workplace or community. An ADA help table provided important information and resources, which were available in alternative formats such as Braille and large print, from organizations that provide services for people with disabilities.

Entertainers with disabilities were highlighted on stage with a variety of musical and dance performances. The art exhibit featured visual and literary artworks created by professional and non-professional artists with disabilities. The exhibit included both independent artists, as well as artists participating through organizations which serve people with disabilities, as well as a fashion show. The art exhibit will remain in the lobby of the James R. Thompson Center through the morning of Friday, July 17, 2009.

Text of proclamation follows:

PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS,  the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed by Congress in 1990, established a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability, with disability defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; and

WHEREAS,  the passage of the ADA represents a major step toward protecting civil rights and improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities, persons who were often subject to discrimination and lacked federal protection; and

WHEREAS the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis.

WHEREAS,  the year 2009 marks the 19th anniversary of the ADA's civil rights guarantee for individuals with disabilities; and

WHEREAS,  Illinois has a long-standing history of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, going back 27 years to the passage of the Illinois Human Rights Act on December 6, 1979, which made discrimination against any person with a physical or mental disability illegal; and

WHEREAS,  in the United States, 15 percent of the population aged five and older have some level of disability, representing 41.2 million people in the nation, with over two million of those citizens residing in Illinois, comprising 13 percent of the state's population; and

WHEREAS, the State of Illinois and its agencies are committed to continuing efforts to ensure that people with disabilities are able to fully participate in employment, transportation, education, communication, and community opportunities; and

WHEREAS,  during the month of July 2009, the Illinois Department of Human Services, in cooperation with a coalition of other state agencies, councils, and consumers, will celebrate the anniversary of the ADA with special events in Springfield and Chicago:

THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim July 15, 2009 as AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT DAY in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to recognize the historical significance of the ADA, and in turn, do their part to ensure that people with disabilities are included in the mainstream of community life.

Update

Would you like to learn more? Attend the free ADA Distance Learning session: ADA Update, 19 Years Later. The program is hosted by the DHS Bureau of Accessibility and Job Accommodations (BAJA) and the Illinois ADA Project.