This year’s National ADA Symposium highlighted what’s being done, and what work remains to be completed
Next year, the country will mark the 30-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
But this year’s National ADA Symposium in late June at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, was a reminder for the 1,160 attendees of how much work is left to do to enforce civil rights under the ADA and create an equal society for people of all abilities.
With 120 breakout sessions and over 100 presenters from around the country, the 21st annual premier conference on the ADA was about more than just networking, sharing best practices for accessibility or learning the latest legal standards that apply to businesses, state and local governments, public accommodations, communications and more.
“People with disabilities, after 30 years of ADA, have not yet reached equity, parity,” says keynote speaker Lex Frieden, a professor of biomedical informatics and physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and one of the key architects in drafting the ADA. “We’re not fully engaged. And we talk a lot about inclusion. We’re included, sort of. We’re included when they want to. We’re included when we want to be included so badly that we have to ask, and sometimes even then we’re not included. So, what do we have to do about that? We have to get involved. We have to get engaged in our community.”