12 Dec Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
When President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law on July 26, 1990, the nation’s 41st president was a healthy and able-bodied 66 years old. At that time, he didn’t know he would personally benefit years later from this landmark legislation. In his late 80s, the former president became confined to a wheelchair during the last several years of his life. He died on November 30, 2018 at the age of 94.
Becoming part of the disabled community is a minority group in which anyone can become a member at any time due to an accident, medical condition, and becoming older. The late President Bush joined the disabled minority when he was diagnosed with vascular Parkinsonism–a condition caused by one or more small strokes. It most often affects people 60 and older.
How the ADA Benefits Seniors
The ADA is one of this country’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation. The law prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. ADA gives disabled people the opportunity to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in state and local government programs and services. The ADA is modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin providing “equal opportunity” for people with disabilities.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau report covering a period between 2008-2012, nearly 40 percent of people age 65 and older had at least one disability. Furthermore, of those 15.7 million people, two-thirds had difficulty in walking or climbing. Since the chance of becoming disabled increases after the age of 65, seniors may be the largest single group to benefit from the ADA. The law ensures access for people with all types of disabilities in a wide variety of venues including:
- Hotels and restaurants
- Retail stores
- Doctor’s offices
- Golf and health clubs
- Private schools
- Sports stadiums
- Movie theaters
- State and local transportation
The ADA gave President George H. W. Bush the opportunity to maintain his independence while confined to a wheelchair. For example, in his later years he gave speeches at different venues across the country, yelled “Play Ball” after the first pitch of the World Series Game 5 in 2017, and even went skydiving on his 75th, 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays. Participation in these activities, even for a former president, would have been nearly impossible without the significant legislation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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