Americans with disabilities remember George H.W. Bush

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Sully, former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, pays his respect to President Bush as he lie in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Americans across the country continue to remember and honor former president George H.W. Bush. One group that is particularly thankful for Bush’s life and accomplishments is people with disabilities. 

On July 26, 1990, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. The law bans discrimination based on disability and requires certain accommodations in public places.

It was an effort that left a lasting legacy across the country.

Although it’s been more than 28 years since he signed the bill, its impact can still be seen today at restaurants, stores, schools, places of employment, and other public venues. 

Things like wheelchair ramps, sight and hearing impairment accommodations, and accessible parking spaces are just a few examples of how the ADA continues to ensure the rights of people with disabilities. 

At Fort Wayne’s The League, employees tell WANE 15 how the ADA impacts their lives.

“I shudder to think where people with disabilities would be at without the law,” says Kevin Showalter, Director of Youth Services at The League.

Kevin  was only 4 when the Americans with disabilities act was signed into law in 1990.

“I probably wouldn’t have a lot of the access I do now, I know I wouldn’t,” he says.

Kevin lives on his own, drives, and has a job at The League.

The League is an organization that provides and promotes opportunities that empower people with disabilities to achieve their potential, all with help from the ADA.

The law didn’t come without adversity though. Many business owners and some lawmakers argued that requiring those accommodations would cost too much. 

President Bush stood strong in the face of that adversity and advocated for the bill, which helped ensure the dignity of people with disabilities.

Kevin’s co-worker John was 20 when the law was signed. At 21, he was told he couldn’t rent a tux because it would need altered too much.

“I knew just enough about the ADA to simply go, “Have you heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act? Please have your manager call me.” The next day I got a phone call saying come on in, we’re going to make sure we take care of your tux,” explains John.

A group of disabled Americans honored those efforts and paid their respects to Bush Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda. They gathered around Bush, who ultimately relied on a wheelchair at the end of his life.

The president’s loyal service dog Sully also joined the group. 

To learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act, click here.

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