Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This Wednesday marks the 33nd anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The law offers many protections for people with disabilities, prohibiting businesses and governments from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life
However, many provisions of the law were not enacted and enforced until two years later, making employers, businesses and governments change various discriminatory practices.
According to a history of the ADA, 1992 is the “first time in the history of our country, or the history of the world, businesses must stop and think about access to people with disabilities. If the ADA means anything, it means that people with disabilities will no longer be out of sight and out of mind.”
It is within this context that in the same year, the non-profit Denver Options began operating out of a building on South Colorado Boulevard and had about 20 employees.
Later renamed to Rocky Mountain Human Services, our organization was born of the collective will of a determined group of parents, advocates and civic-minded individuals who wanted more and better for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“It was about creating options for the people of Denver who had a disability,” said Katherine Carol, who was the first board chair for Denver Options.
Fast-forward 30 years, much has evolved both in how we as a country interpret the ADA and how our own organization has changed to better serve our community.
RMHS has not only grown to nearly 500 employees, but we have also expanded well beyond supporting people with I/DD to assisting veterans who need housing, helping children and students with learning delays, working with people who are transitioning back into the community after residential mental health or substance use treatment, and more.
And the ADA has evolved too, with many additions throughout the years to include things such as accessibility standards for digital platforms, ensuring that people have access to information no matter the platform.
It is important to understand however, that there is still much work to be done in addressing discrimination in our Country, but now is a time for us to look back on the history of the ADA and the history of RMHS to see and celebrate the journey toward greater disability rights.
To learn more about RMHS and the work that we do to support individuals with disabilities, visit www.rmhumanservices.org.