I am not going to try to tell you that the ADA is perfect, that it meets all of our needs, or that it is as strong now as it was 15 years ago. I believe earnestly that unless this country fights for this law, it will die. For those of you who do not have a disability, this is also your law. If you are ever perceived as having a disability, and treated badly as a result, this law covers you. If you intend to get old before you die, this law is your protection, because anyone who lives long enough WILL develop a disability. One in six people in this country has a disability, and that number is rising. This is a good thing; this means we're living and not dying. You may feel that I am being melodramatic, but without this law, people will die. This law provides for access to health care, groceries, and basic communication. This law means that a deaf person can reach 911. It means that a woman using a wheelchair has a hope in hell of having breast or cervical cancer diagnosed in time to save her life. (We're working on that, but we at least have the legal basis for it). It means that when you're 70, you won't be confined to your house. At least ideally, that's what it means. The movement is, as always, a work in progress.A review of a book about the ADA at Ragged Edge:
Yes, activists cheer the law -- but what they're cheering is the law that passed in 1990, and as reflected in a rich legislative history. That's not the ADA as interpreted by the courts and media, which is quite a different thing.
ADA legal scholar Ruth Colker, in her new book The Disability Pendulum: the First Decade of the Americans with Disabilities Act, gives two cheers for the ADA as written, but none for the law as interpreted by the media and the courts. Both of them, in her analysis, have given a very good law a thoroughly unfair drubbing.
Also, for more ADA coverage, Sam at Disability Law has the links.