George H.W. Bush's Legacy & The Americans with Disabilities Act

George H.W. Bush, who recently passed away, has left a legacy that many people with disabilities will remember him by. In 1990, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became a victory for many differently abled people and their allies. It became a civil rights act for people with disabilities that prohibited discrimination based on disability. The law covered many aspects of disability, ranging from a medical definition to one of giving accessibility and functioning. It not only included people who had mobility impairments or relied on wheelchairs, but also included people with hearing impairments, sensory impairments, and cognitive and intellectual disabilities. The ADA also included employment where people could not be discriminated on the basis of disability.

While the ADA was being processed into law, there were concerns about the costs and readjustments that would take place in the United States. President Bush stood firm, however, by listening to every issue that naysayers would have. In the end, he found a compromise. It was a law that both Democrats and Republicans worked to pass through along with President Bush’s push. The ADA has helped open many doors people with disabilities in terms of education, employment, and housing opportunities. It also provided access to public spaces for wheelchair users, as it provided them ramps, elevators, and doors wide enough for them to be able to enter a building. Transportation became accessible for people with disabilities as more accessible stops were created. Whenever there was an issue with employment, housing, or education, people with disabilities had a law that supported them.  

The ADA made it possible for young people with disabilities to have a future, which is something I can relate to. As a deaf student, I was able to access an education at my local schools. Because of the ADA, along with the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), I was able to access resources that helped me succeed in school. I was able to use a FM unit (microphone) in class that my teachers wore whenever they were teaching. As I got older, I was taking more difficult subjects, which made it more likely to miss what my teachers were saying in class. I was allowed to have supplementary notes from my teachers along with a notetaker to help me write down the things I would miss. Even though I was in a school with my hearing peers, there were challenges that I needed help accomplishing. Fortunately, I had help from my hearing itinerants, or Teachers of the Deaf, who would help me with catching up on my school work. They would also help me learn to advocate for myself and educated me about my rights. One of those rights was the ADA. Most importantly, they helped prepare me for something that wouldn’t have been possible if the ADA didn’t exist: college. The ADA has made it possible for me to be able to consider going to college. It also helped me get the accommodations that I need to be able to succeed in class. At NYU, I am able to access my college’s student center with disabilities where it’s possible for me to speak with someone and get proper accommodations. It also gave me access to have accommodations in my dorm where I have a flashing doorbell and alarm, which have helped me know if there is someone outside my dorm or if there was a potential emergency in the building. The ADA has helped me be able to access an education where I could work along with my hearing peers.

The ADA not only helped me in school, but also in my social life. With the rise of technology, the ADA also snuck its way into helping people with disabilities. Many people would watch TV where they could enjoy the shows that they followed. Growing up, I was able to understand what was being said on the TV, but I would still get lost. The ADA has made it easier for me along with many deaf viewers by having TV’s be provided with a closed captioning feature included. It would help me be able to understand TV shows along with catching details that I didn’t notice before. When Netflix along with other streaming services became popular, I was a little worried about being able understand the TV show or movies. But, I was excited when I found out they had captions, too, which they were constantly working on to improve. I also noticed that for English language TV shows or movies, they would try to put an audio description for visually impaired people. Thanks to closed captioning on Netflix, I am able to watch shows that my friends and I like and be able to talk with them about it.

President Bush has created a legacy where he has made it possible for people with disabilities to have civic rights with protection. The ADA has helped create a bridge between disabled and non-disabled people, but there is still work that needs to be done. There are employers that still discriminate against people with disabilities. There are buildings that are not accessible for wheelchair users. Along with that, there are new businesses that are not taking the ADA into account. More than twenty-five years have passed since President Bush signed the historic bill, but there is still work that needs to be done. There are more people that are living longer, but they will most likely have disability that could come with age. A commonality for people with disabilities, unfortunately, is that they are sometimes forgotten. That changes when more people talk about disabilities and push for more comprehensive legislation protecting people with disabilities. President Bush was a champion for disability rights. Thank you, President George H.W. Bush, for protecting the rights of people with disabilities and laying the groundwork for future generations to keep improving on.

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