Americans with Disabilities Act 25 years later

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP)– This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Diasbilities Act.

22News met Tori Elklund from Northampton at this years Health Services Forum in Holyoke.  She was born blind. She said life before the Americans with Disabilities Act was much different.

“More challenging to become employed… have rights taken seriously and have noticed changes,” Elklund told 22News.

Wednesday both folks with and without disabilities gathered here in Holyoke to mark and celebrate 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect.

Under the Act public places including schools, hospitals, libraries, parks, and museums are required to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Steven Schwartz, the legal director for the Center for Public Representation in Northampton, argues the Act was a civil rights landmark allowing people with disabilities the right to be free from discrimination in all aspects of life– voting, education, housing and so on.

He told 22News the act has made major changes but says there are still concerns when it comes to equality in the workforce.

“There still is over 40 percent unemployment for people with disabilities and that’s one of the largest areas the ADA still has to make a big difference,” Schwartz told 22News.

As for Elklund, she too argues more work needs to be done to break down what she called invisible barriers those with disabilities still face.

She attributes much her success as a disability service advocate to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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