Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ADA Has Helped Disabled but They Still Face Many Obstacles

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ADA Has Helped Disabled but They Still Face Many Obstacles

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Going to the doctor always was a hassle for Kelby Brick. Just to get his ailments diagnosed, Brick, who was born deaf, would have to wait for his doctor to scribble questions on paper.

That changed July 26, 1990, when President Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, the landmark law to advance the rights of people with disabilities.

Now, Brick's doctor has a sign-language interpreter on hand to provide better communication with the Greenbelt, Md., attorney.

"It (the ADA) has made society more accessible," Brick said in a recent interview. "I and my deaf and hard-of-hearing friends are becoming attorneys, doctors, engineers, scientists and business executives."

This week, as the 10th anniversary of the disabilities law is observed, many are reflecting on how it has changed the face of America.

Many of the changes are so common they have become part of the woodwork: Parking lots at shopping malls have reserved spots for the disabled, bathrooms are often equipped for wheelchair access, elevators feature braille floor numbers or audio assistance.

Other changes are more subtle, but they, too, are changing the lives of the disabled.

On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission ordered telecommunication carriers to install 711 as a universal dialing code to contact operators to relay messages between people with speech or hearing disabilities and other callers.

Such services already allow Brick to phone home from the mall and let his wife know he will be late for dinner. Even his city government is more accessible. Brick can now attend a town meeting with ease because the ADA ensures an interpreter will be there.

"I just see people with disabilities more and more," said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Association of Protection Advocacy Systems and one of those who worked on passage of the law. …

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