WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and leaders from the disability rights community at a press conference today kicking off several months of events leading up to the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). July 26, 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the ADA. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Twenty years ago, the first President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which made our nation a world leader on one of the most pressing human rights challenges of our time: the inclusion of people with disabilities.
“I was proud to sponsor the ADA, because I believe passionately that all Americans deserve the chance to live up to their God-given potential. The ADA was a collaborative, cooperative, bipartisan effort. It brought together Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, disability rights groups, and more. So did our work to strengthen the ADA in 2008. Despite our differences, we came together because we agreed that Americans with disabilities deserve the same things we all do: jobs that match their talents, access to public accommodations, and a chance to live independently. Without the ADA, more than 50 million Americans would still face enormous barriers to full participation in American society.
“But we don’t mark anniversaries like this to pat ourselves on the back—we mark them to remind ourselves of the work that remains to be done. Americans with disabilities continue to experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment. And we must also remember that the challenges of accessibility did not stop evolving in 1990. With new technology from touch-screens to Internet-broadcast television, the challenge to include all Americans changes every year. That is why I am sending a letter with Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers today to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the relevant Committees, asking them to hold oversight hearings on the implementation of the ADA.
“Twenty years ago, we accomplished something memorable and meaningful that improved the lives of millions. The ADA was, and remains, a powerful action towards fulfilling our founding commitment to equality. And because that commitment remains as strong as ever, we will work this year, and in the years to come, to carry forward the ADA’s legacy.”