Several months ago, a friend told me a story about a conversation he had in Edinburgh, Scotland, with a local taxicab driver. When he learned my friend was American, the cab driver mentioned that he and his wife, who is in a wheelchair, always travel to the United States on vacation.
The reason? America is one of the only places in the world that is truly wheelchair accessible – a reality he directly attributed to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Olmstead v. L.C., affirming the right of individuals with disabilities, regardless of their disability, to live in community settings. It was a decision that upheld the ADA, and reaffirmed that all people in this country have the right to access public places and live independently.
Because of this law and the Supreme Court decision upholding it, the United States continues to serve as a model and inspiration for other countries around the world.
In honor of this anniversary, President Obama released a statement about the decision and the ADA:
The landmark Olmstead case affirmed the rights of Americans with disabilities to live independently. On this anniversary, let’s recommit ourselves to building on the promise of Olmstead by working to end all forms of discrimination, and uphold the rights of Americans with disabilities and all Americans.
Read the President’s full statement on the ADA.