PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was celebrated at the Allegheny County Courthouse courtyard Monday.
John Tague knows the issue – particularly as it relates to how those with mobility issues access public transit.
He, as a PAT board member with a disability, looks back at the progress made since the ADA law was adopted in 1990.
“We were one of the first transit agencies in the country to have fully accessible buses,” he said, “and we have an access system that went well beyond the law. And the law required that you provide service for people three-quarters of a mile from a bus route.”
Venita Smith, from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, signed her message to the group and an interpreter spoke for her. She remembered having to take her grandmother with her for appointments and job interviews before interpreters were available and technology changed.
“Technology,” she said, “the video phone – allowing me to communicate directly with the hearing individuals via phone. Text messaging. Email. When it comes to the video phone, I can have a phone interview for a job right away just like a hearing person can.”
Ryan Cenk, 20, a Giant Eagle employee, knows the ADA law was passed before he was born, but also knows it paved the way for employment opportunities.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a disability,” he said, “everyone needs work experience.”
The celebration highlighted many facets of how the law changed things.
Holly Dick, a long-time advocate for accessibility looked back.
“When we started out most of the public buildings were not accessible,” she said. “Now the vast majority of public buildings are accessible with one accessible entrance and hopefully one accessible restroom.”
While those who’ve worked over the past 25 years to get more accessibility on street curbs and accessibility in public buildings in high volume areas, they say there’s still a lot more to be done in neighborhoods.