September 2020 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. MML recently spoke with Gary C. Norman, Chair at the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, who emphasized the importance of this landmark civil rights law and its positive impact on municipalities throughout the country. As a lawyer partnered with his third guide dog, he knows the critical relationship among civil rights and inclusive municipalities.
This landmark civil rights statutory scheme has fostered benefits in our large urban centers and in our small towns. On July 26, 1990, President Bush signed the A.D.A. into law at a widely covered and attended ceremony on the grounds of the White House; calling the bi-partisan legislation “a new birth of freedom.” Since then, curb cuts (with truncated domes) and Accessible Pedestrian Signals have improved the quality of life of all – not just those who have disabilities. While Maryland municipalities should acknowledge this anniversary and the progress achieved to date; our municipalities are not yet as inclusive as they must be to the disabled.
According to Norman, “Yet, a lot of progress remains to translate these legal protections into full and equal inclusion in economic, political, and recreational life of nineteen percent of Maryland’s citizens.”
The Chair has held a variety of dialogues in recent years on the role of technology to expand the inclusion of people with disabilities in our public life. He holds a lot of faith that the evolving technologies, such as all of us now find in our homes, and even on the roads and streets “so-called smart devices” can, if applied correctly with the proper policies, improve the quality of life of all citizens.
“To the fullest extent possible, we need to make our communities and cities disability aware consistent with next generation technology, “said Chair Norman.
In celebrating the anniversary until December, find the following resource, https://www.adaanniversary.org/