YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Dozens gathered on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Youngstown on Monday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The law was put in place to stop discrimination against those with disabilities, but work is still to be done.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s only been 25 years since this groundbreaking piece of legislation has been the law of the land,” said Ohio Senate member Capri Cafaro.
Cafaro knows the importance of the ADA firsthand. With a background in social work, she has seen the difference the law makes in the lives of clients.
“Everyone has a right to thrive, and the ADA is part of that story,” Cafaro said.
However, thriving is not easy 25 years later.
Pam Davies is a retired special education teacher and has a son with disabilities. She said the challenges that remain often pile up. One challenge is getting around safely.
“If transportation is available, often it’s not affordable. Not all counties even have public transportation,” Davies said.
Davies said 40 percent of the homeless are people with disabilities.
The executive director of Easter Seals said one of the biggest hurdles for those with disabilities is finding employment. Without employment, the future can seem hopeless.
“There’s still a lot of discrimination, particularly in the jobs for people with disabilities. You might look at someone in a wheelchair or someone with a handicap and say, well, they can’t work here. Or someone with a mental disability and say how so we hire them,” Tim Nelson, Executive Director of Easter Seals said.
Everyone gathered at the courthouse had hope that by raising awareness through events, things will continue to improve.
“We’ve come a long way, but we always have further to go,” Nelson said.
The group said each person can have a part in that improvement.