Remarks by Vice President Harris at the 32nd Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act Reception
“I think that Senator Harkin said it so well: This is a movement. We — we rest on broad shoulders of folks who through their activism, their courage, their commitment, have allowed us to celebrate this 32nd anniversary. But still, if we are to live as part of their legacy, we also know we have a lot more to do and that we are part of a movement whose work is unfinished.”
Today we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—the world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for persons with disabilities. The ADA inspires the world to see disability through the lens of equity and expands opportunities for persons with disabilities to contribute to our global progress. This landmark U.S. law sparked an international shift from viewing persons with disabilities as objects of charity to individuals with rights, fully capable of exercising these rights. This perspective serves as a beacon to the more than one billion persons with disabilities worldwide—one in every seven of us. Ensuring that persons with disabilities can proudly participate in all aspects of society is a U.S. foreign policy priority, and a value that we live at the U.S. Department of State.
As the NAACP works to recognize the diversity of its members in all forms, we want to acknowledge the importance of this federal law and advocate for its continued implementation in all aspects of American society. We also recognize that, without the ADA, the realization of equity for Black and other multi-marginalized groups of color cannot be attained.
“We were no movement, but we were talking about [how] there are a lot of us, and there are all these issues that need to be dealt with. These other groups are not representing at all, they’re not really seeking us to be involved, whatever the group was. And we need to be looking at creating something that brings us together, and where we can be addressing these multitude of issues,” Heumann told NPR in a Zoom interview.
Many students with disabilities need services to support their behavior as well as their social, emotional, and mental health. Students with these support needs (including autistic students) are disproportionately suspended, expelled, restrained and secluded, and moved to more restrictive schools and placements. They are often the targets of discriminatory threat assessments and of police attention in schools.
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