Twenty-five years ago on July 26, 1990, legislation was enacted that granted people with disabilities the same civil rights enjoyed by other citizens in all areas of public life, protecting them from discrimination and allowing them to fully participate in their communities and the workforce. More than just a landmark victory for those with disabilities, however, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has also played a significant role in improving the lives of our country’s elderly population.
Just this past Monday the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Community Living and Office for Civil Rights celebrated the ADA’s 25-year anniversary mark, discussing its success and accomplishments in breaking down many societal barriers, as well as the remaining challenges and issues the disabled and elderly continue to face.
Among several keynote speakers were Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator for the Administration for Community Living and Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging, who reminded people that the ADA has also “emphasized the need for aging and disability communities to work together to address barriers to inclusion, independence and full participation.”
The sheer number of people that have benefited from the ADA is rather significant: 56.7 million people in the United States have a disability, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation. And today, as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age in large numbers – by 2030, one out of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older – they, too, will benefit from a law that has improved accessibility, accommodations and transportation options for those suffering from a physical or mental infirmity.
We certainly applaud the ADA’s continued efforts on behalf of the disabled and are heartened that the importance of including the elderly in such discussions is becoming more widely recognized, as it is crucial to improving the care and wellbeing of America’s rapidly expanding aging population.
CareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik