On July 26, 1990 President George H.W. Bush signed the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA. This legislation represented the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people living with a disability. The spirit and intent of the legislation was "to ensure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities."
With the forthcoming anniversary of the Act, the question becomes; how much has changed for people living with a disability in terms of the above? And has philanthropy's engagement and response to been inpactful?
For the most part, the organized disability community in the United States has moved beyond the direct service model; but the philanthropic community largely has not. It has done so in recognition that making substaintive and sustainable advances for persons living with a disability will require the elimination of systemic and structural barriers. This will require a sea change in attitudinal concepts of persons living with a disability as well as legislative initiaitves that reduce or eliminate structural and physcial barriers. From a funding perspective, this will require a greater emphasis being placed on advocacy and awareness inititives as well as programs and partnerships to address the critical issues of transportation and accessibility through thimgs such as building modification.
To learn more about philanthropy and disability, you my want to explore the following resources:
Please note that as the anniversary for the ADA approaches, I will write a follow up blog on this topic. In the interim, we might reflect upon the fact that there are over 50 million Americans living with a disability.
As always, be focused on knowledge, innovation and impact!
John Patrick Bailey, Ph.D.