Americans With Disabilities Act marks 29 years

Americans With Disabilities Act marks 29 years

Posted:
Christopher Hefner, 32 Christopher Hefner, 32
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Christopher Hefner is 32-years-old and has lived with Beals syndrome and scoliosis his entire life. 

"Several back surgeries as a youngster by kindergarten and first grade, leg surgeries, after that, physical therapy throughout life...." Hefner said.

Although the ADA was passed in 1990, it took years before it was implemented, he said.

"The ramps...as a kid, I remember going to places with Mom and Dad as a kid in the early 90s. ADA's there for example, but you did the old game of, 'where's the ramp?'" Hefner said.

Since then, he said the law has made significant strides with wheelchair accessible bathrooms, ramps and parking spaces.

Larry Phillippe, with Texas Tech Student Disability Services, said the ADA Amendments of 2008 expanded the qualifications of a disability.

"It definitely reset the law and made it to where it was much more purposeful, doing what it was intended to do, and that's really to provide services for those folks that needed it," Phillippe said.

Without the law, Phillippe said equal access for every individual in all programs and services may not have come as quickly.

"You see all these things that have come about as a result of the ADA and pushing people to think outside the box and come up with more effective ways to do things," he said.

However, Hefner said there is still room for improvement. The primary part lawmakers can improve on, he said, is employment. He said he wishes employers were able to ask questions about his capabilities.

"One reason I'm self employed, I've interviewed for numerous jobs ... the whole time I'm doing job interviews, they're looking down at me now in my chair. But it's obvious they have questions and concerns ... I wish we could talk about it."

Overall, he said the law needs better enforcement. He suggests having an ADA unit in the Justice Department, or a special task force to handle these sorts of complaints.

 

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