ADA anniversary: A time of celebration, cause for improvements

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Friday, June 19, 2020

WATERLOO, Iowa – To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, VGM & Associates, U.S. Rehab and NCART have released a video featuring longtime champion and lead sponsor of the act, retired Sen. Tom Harkin.

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement was established in 2013 to continue to catalyze change on issues of social justice, fairness and opportunity.

“Having him speak to the CRT policies that are needed helps set the stage for us to have those more detailed conversations, whether it be on a federal or state level,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

The five-week campaign, which is symbolic of the five titles of the ADA, will also feature additional clips; quizzes posted to social media; and a remote social event on July 26, the anniversary of the act passing.

While the ADA was landmark legislation, Clayback says improvements still need to be made in terms of adequate access to complex rehab equipment.

“One of the premises of the ADA is to make work and social settings open to people with disabilities,” he said, “but if you don’t have the right wheelchair and right seating, you’re really not able to fully participate in the benefits and the accomplishments of the ADA.”

Then there’s the aviation industry, which is not regulated by the ADA. Due to size and weight limitations, it has lagged behind the rest of the transportation industry in terms of storage and accessibility.

“Access means how does that person safely get in and out of that airplane, how is their wheelchair protected and how is it delivered to them when they arrive at their destination,” said Clayback.

To that end, NCART, the United Spinal Association, and U.S. Rehab are working with RESNA to help the aviation community come up with solutions to safely transport those with disabilities and assistive technology devices.

“So we’re not seeing as much damage (to their wheelchairs),” said Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab.