“Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
- President George H.W. Bush, upon signing the Americans with Disabilities Act
This is a year of awakening. The pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of our lives, with disproportionate impacts on many communities including people with disabilities, older adults, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Portland is in the national spotlight, and our society is undergoing necessary, vital conversations about how racism has shaped our institutions.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Especially now, it is important to take a moment to reflect on this milestone and the ADA’s extraordinary impact on the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities.
Thirty years ago, on July 26th 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into national law with bipartisan support, including that of Senator Hamilton Fish IV, Commissioner Nick Fish’s father. Since its passage, the ADA has catalyzed significant advances for disability inclusion, accessibility, and anti-discrimination in employment (Title I), services from state and local governments (Title II), and services from private businesses (Title III). Here at the City of Portland, we have disability equity staff and programs in multiple Bureaus committed to uplifting accessibility and the principles of the ADA within the City’s policies and services.
For all its successes, the ADA by itself is not sufficient to ensure accessibility or disability equity. This is particularly true for people with disabilities who have multiple identities, such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color with disabilities and/or members of the LGBTQIA+ communities with disabilities. To achieve the full promise of disability inclusion, accessibility, and justice in Portland will mean not only legal compliance with the ADA but the consistent application of our City’s core values in our collective work of dismantling systemic racism and ableism.
It is a challenging time, but it is also a transformative opportunity. The City of Portland can be proud of its accessibility and disability equity efforts and will continue to advance its work to be inclusive of all Portlanders, including those with disabilities. We are honored to carry the torch lit by the ADA into a future where all have access, and all are included.
In closing, we would like to invite you to join a virtual Council session (streaming live at eGovPDX on YouTube) for a proclamation on the ADA anniversary, Wednesday, July 29th at 9:45 AM. English captions and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided.
Thank you for your time. In community, inclusion, and equity –
Bureau of Human Resources
Anais Keenon – Disability Resources & Employment Specialist
Office of Community & Civic Life
Joanne Johnson – Disability Program Coordinator
Tyesha McCool-Riley – Mental Health Program Specialist
Office of Equity and Human Rights
Jonathan Simeone – ADA Title II Policy Coordinator
Nickole Cheron – ADA Title II and Disability Equity Manager
Portland Bureau of Transportation
Lisa Strader – ADA Title II Coordinator
Portland Parks & Recreation
Jane Doyle – Adaptive & Inclusive Recreation Coordinator