CELEBRATE Developmental Disabilities AWARENESS MONTH-ADA PROGRESS BY: Mary Ellen Pfeil

Once again, it’s time to celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. People with disabilities have come a long way over the years and we want to be acknowledged so the world will know what a resilient community we are. My friend Mary Ellen is a true pioneer for the disability community. Lend her your attention as she serves as guest blogger sharing how far we’ve come since the American Disabilities Act.


In my lifetime, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, has been the most positive, widespread influence on my life. The ADA sets standards for how people with disabilities will be accommodated in American society. These standards affect employment, public accommodation, public services, telecommunication and public transportation.

As someone who has never driven, the first impact I felt was the change in public bus transportation. One reason I decided to permanently move to Dayton Ohio after college, is because of the progressive accommodation of persons with physical disabilities on the RTA buses. During the phase in, all bus schedules had the wheelchair symbol designating which times an accessible bus would run. The ADA mandated 100% accessibility of all buses in 1995. I have always been proud the RTA had completed this transition ahead of time.


More opportunities have become available to people with disabilities. I remember the days of limited seating for people in wheelchairs and their companions who attend a performance. When the Schuster Performing Arts Center was built, accessible seating was scattered throughout the auditorium, so people had more of a choice of where they sat to enjoy a show.

Beyond the ADA, children with disabilities are given more opportunities to participate in inclusive sports and play on playgrounds. Children without disabilities are playing on accessible playgrounds with children who have disabilities and not sensing a difference when they play in a treehouse that is accessible by ramps.


Recently, manufacturers and retailers are offering adaptive goods. Jansport, a sporting manufacturer, started manufacturing wheelchair backpacks in assorted colors. JCPenney and Walmart are offering some adaptive clothing in the stores.

Our society has come a long way to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. Granted there is much work still to do to improve the lives of people with disabilities, but Progress is going in the right direction.

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