ADA celebrated at Civil Rights Summit

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Civil Rights

In response to a backlash from disability advocates, the organizers of a major civil rights summit made a last-minute change to recognize the legacy of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The three-day Civil Rights Summit, which began April 8, was held at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act.

When the summit’s speakers and panelists were originally announced, disability rights was excluded from the agenda, which in addition to focusing on racial discrimination issues, also highlighted the struggles of the LGBT community and immigrant groups.

The move did not go unnoticed.

“The collective past, present and future of the disability and civil rights movements remain as inexorably linked now as they were in decades past,” the National Council on Disability said in a news release. “NCD urges the LBJ Library to infuse the rich history, diverse perspectives and valuable insights of the disability community throughout the upcoming Civil Rights Summit and calls for meaningful inclusion of the disability advocates in ongoing civil rights dialogues going forward.”

Lex Frieden, one of the ADA’s original drafters, spoke during the event’s final day.

“No one should have their ambitions, dreams or opportunities stifled by discrimination…The dreams and ambitions of many people with disabilities have yet to be realized,” Frieden told KEYETV. “Significant disparities in housing, transportation, employment and community living by people with disabilities are evidence of the need for us to continue our fight for civil rights and equal opportunity.”