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July 27, 2012
Topeka Independent Living Resource Center today marked the 22nd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act with a hot dog roast and brief ceremony.
“We had about 90 people turn out,” said Mike Oxford, executive director of the nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and services for and by people with disabilities.
Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten addressed the gathering.
The ADA, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities.
Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas is well-known for his role in shepherding the ADA through Congress.
“He’s retired from politics now, but he’s still very active on disability issues,” said Oxford, who serves on several national committees that advocate the rights of the disabled.
Prior to ADA, thousands of disabled Kansans lived less-than-independent lives because their communities were not wheelchair-accessible.
“If it wasn’t for ADA, I’d probably be institutionalized or sitting at home,” said 28-year-old Uriel Tarin, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. He lives in Topeka.
“Without (ADA-required) curb cuts, I wouldn’t be able to get out,” he said. “People take things like curb cuts and wheelchairs for granted now, but for a long time they weren’t there.
“I’m lucky because ADA passed when I was 6 years old,” Tarin said. “So now that I’m 28, I can live on my own.”
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