Illinois celebrates 17th year of leading the way through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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Special event at James R. Thompson Center highlights ADA Accomplishments

CHICAGO - Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) observed the 17th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act at a special event, "ADA Leads the Way." The state's celebration highlighted the talents and accomplishments of persons with disabilities through an art exhibition hosted by the Little City Foundation, entertainment, hands-on art activities, exhibits, workshops, an appearance by Ms. Wheelchair Illinois 2007, and an exciting 3-on-3 wheelchair basketball tournament. The annual event was held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the James R. Thompson Center at 100 West Randolph Street in Chicago.

"Illinois remains committed to ensuring equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in important aspects of their lives such as employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation," said Secretary Adams, "The Americans with Disabilities Act has been successful in challenging society's perceptions of persons with disabilities by providing a greater understanding that disabilities do not diminish a person's right to live independently within their communities."

Each year, IDHS joins with other state agencies and state 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 is one of 13 states to receive the federal "Money Follows the Person" initiative which will give the elderly and persons with disabilities more control and freedom over how and where they receive the Medicaid services they need to live independently in their communities.

The "ADA Leads the Way" celebration encourages the state and persons with disabilities to work together in the same spirit that accompanied the original enactment of this law, to achieve a greater understanding of the abilities and contributions of persons with disabilities in Illinois.

"This celebration focuses on ability rather than disability. Honoring the 17th anniversary of this important federal act, we are reminded that we all play a role to advance and protect the civil rights of all of Illinois' residents and to facilitate broader awareness of how we can be a more inclusive society," said Audrey McCrimon, Assistant to the IDHS Secretary.

This year's celebration featured workshops focusing on creating low-cost assistive technology devices; a discussion on proposed federal legislation, "ADA Restoration Act"; and steps to assist employers to achieve successful employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. An ADA help table provided important information and resources, which will be available in alternative formats such as Braille and large print, from organizations that provide services for people with disabilities.

Little City Foundation of Chicago co-sponsored an art exhibit featuring visual and literary artworks created by professional and non-professional artists with disabilities. The art exhibit included both independent artists, as well as artists participating through organizations which serve people with disabilities. New this year was a wearable art fashion show. The exhibit will remain in the lobby of the James R. Thompson Center through the morning of Friday, July 20, 2007.