Happy 25th Anniversary to the ADA (from Google)

Exactly 25 years ago, President George H. W. Bush took the stage in front of thousands of people, the largest White House crowd in history, and signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was the work of so many people, in many venues, over decades. It stands, today, as one of the most important civil rights acts in American history.

It has long seemed to me that the history of the disability rights movement, however, is not so well known, especially compared to other civil rights struggles. The movement has its visionary leaders, acts of severe discrimination, its inspiring acts of civil disobedience, its political heroes – but it’s a marginal story, rather than a central one, despite over 50 million Americans having disabilities. I’ve been so gratified seeing the many efforts to change that over the last few months, such as the ADA Legacy Project and the various efforts that went into it. I hope to see the mobile museum this afternoon, in DC.

And now there’s Google. Last month, I was invited to be a part of Google.org’s commemoration of the ADA. Google has committed 20 million dollars to the Google Impact Challenge, looking to fund ideas that could radically change the nature of assistive technology today. This focus on disability and technology led them to celebrate the history of the disability rights movement. The commemoration celebrated ten leaders of the past and presents of the movement, activists and politicians alike, and people with all kinds of disabilities. It was my honor to interview some of the subjects and co-write all the profiles on the site, working with a great team of writers, designers, artists, filmmakers, and more. Google is committed to working on disability issues, has embraced the social model of disability, and wants to use technology to improve accessibility for all.

The site is rich. Each subjects gets a short video in addition to the longer overview video above. The profiles build out from scenes in their lives, focusing on social model issues and the way these leaders have worked to make the world a better place. They are, of course, just a few leaders in what’s a big and vibrant movement, and I tried to have the profiles reflect that as well.

Please read and share. Hopefully more to come on the Google Impact Challenge, their plans for the Cultural Institute commemoration of the disability rights movements, and more.

Happy ADA 25!

One Reply to “Happy 25th Anniversary to the ADA (from Google)”

  1. Erin says:

    This will take me a while to get through, but I wanted to thank you for your part in this important project. Excellent work!

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