The ADA opened a whole new world for people with disabilities

July 26 is a significant day for the disability community. It’s the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) becoming law. We at AbleLight are excited to celebrate this groundbreaking legislation, which has undeniably changed the world for people with disabilities in the United States.

Also known as National Disability Independence Day, we choose to commemorate the spirit of independence and empowerment that the ADA embodies. Let’s reflect on the progress we’ve made and acknowledge the work that lies ahead as we continue advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities and strive towards a future where everyone can embrace their full potential.

Breaking down barriers

The ADA has been instrumental in breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. It has opened doors to employment, education, public services, transportation, and physical access. People with disabilities are now protected from discrimination and have legal rights that ensure equal opportunities in the workplace, public accommodations, and beyond.

Employment 

Thanks to the ADA, the workforce has become more inclusive, allowing individuals with disabilities to showcase their talents and contribute to their communities. Employers are gradually recognizing the immense value and diverse perspectives that individuals with disabilities bring. At AbleLight, people with developmental disabilities make up more than 25 percent of our thrift shop workforce.

The ADA has encouraged others to join us in fostering an environment where people with disabilities can pursue fulfilling careers and be recognized for their skills and abilities rather than being defined solely by their disabilities. Throughout our history, we have employed people with disabilities in operations, marketing, finance, development, etc. Read more about Tyler, a direct support professional with autism who creates opportunities for individuals AbleLight serves.

Access

Public spaces, including buildings, transportation systems, and digital platforms have become increasingly accessible over the years. Ramp entrances, accessible restrooms, elevators, and designated parking spaces are now commonplace, making it easier for individuals with disabilities to navigate their surroundings independently. Plus, advancements in technology have opened a whole new world of possibilities, empowering people with disabilities to connect, communicate, and participate fully in society.

AbleLight day programs welcome people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and encourage them to explore their communities. Day program participants experience local culture, employment, recreation, social activities, neighborhoods and so much more. They spend time in their communities meeting neighbors, making friends, and participating in all that life has to offer.

Education

The ADA has played a vital role in promoting inclusive education for students with disabilities. It ensures that students have the necessary accommodations and support to succeed academically, fostering a learning environment that caters to diverse needs. In many cases, students with disabilities can fully participate in educational activities, fostering a sense of belonging and paving the way for future success. We take inclusive education to the next level with AbleLight College, where students with developmental disabilities can pursue their dreams.

The Journey Ahead

While we celebrate the ADA’s accomplishments, it’s important to acknowledge that there is still work to be done. Challenges such as barriers to access, disparities in employment, and perceptions within our society continue to persist. At AbleLight, we envision a world where people with disabilities are seen as friends, neighbors, and colleagues first, before their disability. We are committed to advocating for continued progress and ensuring the voices of individuals with developmental disabilities are heard and respected.

The ADA has opened doors, shattered stereotypes, and fostered a more inclusive society. As we look toward the future, let’s work together to break down remaining barriers and create a world where everyone’s unique abilities are valued, and everyone is included.

You can make a difference too!

In honor of National Disability Independence Day, get involved and support our mission:

Apply

Do you feel called to serve? Then being a Direct Support Professional might be the job for you. Put your heart to work at AbleLight.

Donate

With your generous support, we create a brighter future for people with developmental disabilities. Give a gift and change a life.

Volunteer

When caring hearts meet helping hands, magic happens. Learn more about us, volunteer, and make a difference.

Together, we can make the world shine bright for people with developmental disabilities. Happy ADA anniversary!