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By Michael Cass
(Nashville, Tennessee) The cross-country Road to Freedom tour stopped in Nashville on Wednesday to pitch the importance of preserving the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Mayor Karl Dean and Councilman Darren Jernigan were there to talk about the cause. Advocates for the ADA, which Congress passed in 1990, say its power to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities has been steadily eroded by federal court decisions favoring employers over workers. The advocates are now lobbying Congress to pass an “ADA Restoration Act.”
“We must restore the language, we must restore the intent of the ADA,” said Jernigan, who became the first Metro councilman with a physical disability when he was elected to represent District 11 in Old Hickory this year. “We will not go quietly into the night.”
By Eric Eyre
A national bus tour exhibit about the disability rights movement will make a stop this weekend at the South Charleston Wal-Mart on Corridor G. West Virginia leads the nation with more than 27 percent of residents reporting they are disabled, according to national health surveys. Nearly 10 percent of West Virginians have health problems that require special equipment — also the highest rate in the United States.
The bus tour includes a multimedia display about the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act and photographs from Tom Olin, whose work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
“The Act is extremely important here in West Virginia because we have so many people with disabilities,” said David Stewart, coordinator for the West Virginia ADA Coalition. The “Road to Freedom Tour” has stopped at 65 events in 44 states during the past year, a journey that has stretched more than 20,000 miles. The exhibits explain the struggle for disability rights and promote the expansion of educational and economic opportunities for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities.
MERRILLVILLE — Life since the Americans with Disabilities Act has improved in a way that a road full of potholes spot-filled with asphalt is improved: It’s better but still fundamentally flawed.
People with disabilities have better access to buildings and have their own washrooms and parking spaces, said Jim Ward, president of ADA Watch and the National Coalition of Disability Rights, during his stop at Everybody Counts, Inc. on Wednesday.
But that’s only one small fraction of a larger issue that continues to leave much of the population sliding through the cracks, he said. Ward and his family have been touring the country for the past year in their “Road to Freedom” bus. They have stopped at 65 events in 44 states, spreading both the victories and obstacles of the ADA through a display shot by photographer Tom Olin.
By Diane Lederman
AMHERST – About 50 people, some in wheelchairs, some on crutches or with service dogs, gathered yesterday to welcome the Road to Freedom bus to Stavros Center for Independent Living.
James Ward, president of the National Coalition for Disability Rights, has been traveling around the country in his red, white and blue bus since November with his wife and two children to teach people about the Americans with Disabilities Act and to listen to stories about how the act is failing to protect those who need it.
His stop here was one of about 60 across the country, a journey that has stretched more than 20,000 miles, he said.
Ward, who said he suffers from an invisible disability – mental illness – was also collecting signatures that he will bring to Congress urging the approval of the ADA Restoration Act that will address some of the problems with the act that was approved 17 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
Campaign To Toughen ADA Visits Amherst, Massachusetts
AMHERST, MA (2007-10-17) A national campaign to strengthen the Americans with Disabilities Act , called The Road to Freedom, rolled into the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts this afternoon…WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports…..
By Mark Zaretsky
NEW HAVEN — If you’re someone without a disability, you may think that when Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, it took care of problems people with disabilities may have with accessibility and opportunity. But a traveling “freedom tour” landed on the New Haven Green Sunday, and dozens of Connecticut disabilities rights advocates spent the day spreading the message that 17 years later, the ADA is threatened. And particularly threatened by some court decisions by judges who opted to narrowly interpret the law. The advocates say the law is in need of protection, reinforcement and, in some cases, repair.
The event on the Green celebrated “disability culture.” The Road to Freedom Bus Tour, a project of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights, is touring all 50 states to urge Congress to keep the promise of the ADA and build support for passage of the proposed ADA Restoration Act in order to do that.
“We feel that the Americans with Disabilities Act over the years has been weakened by a lot of the court cases,” said Heather Northrup, coordinator of CT-KASA, which is an acronym for “Connecticut Kids As Self Advocates.”
The fifty—state Road to Freedom Tour visited Connecticut last week, and due to the outstanding effort of several dozen individuals and organizations it was an unqualified success. The three-stop visit was coordinated by the Disability Advocacy Collaborative.
The Tour concluded with a rousing welcome at the State Capitol the afternoon of Monday, October 15 attended by 70 advocates and disability rights supporters. The highlight of the Capitol stop was a commitment by First District Congressman John Larson to support the ADA Restoration Act. Larson had been the only member of the State’s Congressional delegation that had not signed on as a Co-Sponsor of the Act.
By Kathryn Caggianelli
TROY – A 50-foot red, white and blue bus carrying a group of advocates in favor of redefining the meaning of the word “disabled” rolled into downtown Wednesday afternoon for a press conference in front of the Atrium on Third Street.
One side of the bus touted the slogan “keeping the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA). “The Road to Freedom Bus Tour” was emblazoned on the other side.
“We’re calling on Americans to pass the ADA Restoration Act of 2007,” said Jim Ward, founder and president of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) based in Washington, D.C.
By Greg Livadas
(Rochester, New York) – A mobile display chronicling the struggles of disabled people and the Americans with Disabilities Act rolled into Rochester today.
Visitors to the Center for Disability Rights on State Street were also encouraged to sign a petition to have Congress pass the ADA Restoration Act, which would include more people for ADA coverage.
“The ADA is a living, breathing grass roots movement,” said Jim Ward with the Road to Freedom bus tour. “This tour isn’t about disability. It’s about humanity and how the world’s wealthiest nation doesn’t deal with its own humanity.”
CDR’s Executive Director Bruce Darling said critical issues for equal access are education, transportation, housing and employment. Unemployment among the disabled is 70 percent, he said.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “Even now, the right to vote privately and independently are things we struggle for.”
Local dignitaries attended a press conference at the center.
For more information, visit: http://www.roadtofreedom.org.
By David Filkins, Times Union (Albany, New York)
TROY — A yearlong bus tour promoting rights for people with disabilities will make a stop in Troy on Wednesday.
The event, Road to Freedom, will feature a multimedia display and history exhibit highlighting the disability rights struggle and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A photo exhibit and a discussion by National Coalition for Disability Rights President Jim Ward will be included in the free event, which runs from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Atrium, 41 Third St.
A dinner during the event will benefit The Sanctuary for Independent Media, a community media resource center in Troy. The dinner costs $20 per plate; $40 per family. A silent auction featuring artwork from local artists will take place during the dinner.
For more information contact The Center for Independent Living of the Hudson Valley at 274-0701 or http:// http://www.ilchv.org; or The Sanctuary for Independent Media at 272-2390 or http://www.the sanctuaryforindependentmedia.org.
By Pat Christman
Ceremony at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center honors those whose graves were marked by just numbers
(Mankato, Minnesota) Remembering With Dignity, together with the Americans with Disabilities Act Road to Freedom tour, held a ceremony Saturday to honor the placement of hundreds of new grave markers in the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center’s cemetery.
Cemeteries have historically been the places people go to remember family members and friends who have died. Remember who they were and what they did while they were alive. In some cemeteries, such as the one on the grounds of the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, it can be a place to forget.
More than 12,500 graves in institution cemeteries in Minnesota are marked with only a number, if at all, according to Remembering With Dignity, a coalition of disability rights and advocacy organizations founded in 1994 to identify those people buried beneath a number and record their histories. Remembering With Dignity, together with the Americans with Disabilities Act Road to Freedom tour, held a ceremony Saturday to honor the placement of hundreds of new grave markers in the treatment center’s cemetery. Read the rest of this entry »
By KIM HOYUM
MARQUETTE – A national bus tour promoting the Americans with Disabilities Act got plenty of support Tuesday when it stopped at the Marquette Commons.
“Is the ADA about charity?” asked Jim Ward, president of ADA Watch and the National Coalition of Disability Rights.
“No!” shouted back a crowd of more than 100 Upper Peninsula residents.
“Is the ADA about pity?” “No!”
“Is the ADA about sympathy?” “No!”
Ward has been traveling the country with his family, road crew and camera since November on the Road to Freedom bus, a disability rights tour designed to celebrate the 1990 ADA and raise awareness of issues that still need to be addressed.
His message is simple: this is a civil rights act, not charity or a bureaucratic mandate. “People aren’t familiar with the idea of people with disabilities active in civil rights and participating in acts of civil disobedience,” Ward said. “Hopefully, people can come to understand the people’s movement that got the ADA passed and that despite the hard work that went into it, it’s being rolled back in the courts.”
Senator Tom Harkin Calls for Restoration of Americans with Disabilities Act
on the ‘Road to Freedom’ National Bus Tour
Advocates Living On the Road to Advance Disability Civil Rights
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) joined a family of four, a prominent documentary photographer, and other advocates who are living and traveling aboard a bus during a yearlong, cross-country tour promoting civil rights protections for children and adults with physical, mental, cognitive, sensory and developmental disabilities. The “Road To Freedom” bus and traveling exhibit left Washington, DC last on November 15 with Yoshiko Dart, widow of the “Father of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” Justin Dart, Jr. aboard.
The bus tour, produced by ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR), has traveled more than 15,000 miles with 45 bus stop events in 32 states, gathering petition signatures, registering citizens to vote and attracting significant local media attention. It will return to Washington, DC this coming November. Read the rest of this entry »
By Frank Strong, Jr.
Associate Director of the Central Iowa Center for Independent Living
After months of planning of the event to celebrate the arrival of the ADA “Road to Freedom” bus tour arrived in Des Moines, Iowa. The “Road to Freedom “ buses had been traveling around the states for the last eight months, both buses arrived in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday August 8, 2007.
On the morning of Wednesday, August 8, we spoke with Jim Ward over the telephone about their accommodations and their plans for the next two days while they spent time in central Iowa. The Road To Freedom tour actually consists of a convoy of vehicles including two buses, a Jeep, a travel trailer and a storage trailer. The Freedom Riders include Jim Ward, president of ADA Watch/National Coalition for Disability Rights, documentary photographer Tom Olin, former AOL director of accessibility Debbie Fletter Ward, video camera operator Amanda Meisner and the Ward’s children, Zach, age 3 and Jake, age 2. Tom captures photos of the events while the program includes dignitaries, policymakers, disability rights leaders, as well as Jim’s overview of the bus tour and call to pass the ADA Restoration Act of 2007. Read the rest of this entry »
By Guest Blogger: Mike Hoenig, Member of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Road to Freedom Tour Planning Committee
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa) August 10, 2007, will go down as a day to remember for disability advocates attending the Road to Freedom Tour/ADA Celebration in Cedar Rapids. Things got underway at 2 PM with tours of Veterans Memorial Stadium and a “meet and greet” with the Cedar Rapids Kernels minor league baseball team. While others were touring the stadium and meeting the players, I took the opportunity to visit the Road to Freedom’s Disability History Exhibit. What a profound experience! I was fascinated to learn that the first recorded reference to disability occurred around 3500 B.C. I was angry all over again when reminded of the segregation, confinement and mistreatment which people with disabilities faced for centuries. And I was inspired all over again by Justin Dart, whose spirit is as alive today as it was when he physically lived among us. Read the rest of this entry »
“We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
– From the opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education
(Topeka, Kansas) One of Tom Olin‘s photographs in the mural on the side of the Freedom Bus captures a protester with a disability holding a sign declaring, “Separate is Never Equal.” On August 1, as we pulled in front of the historic Monroe Elementary School building, Dennis Vasquez, Superintendent of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, enthusiastically told us that he could think of no better place for the bus to stop. This incredible event was sponsored by the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (TILRC) and, on very short notice, local advocates and supporters welcomed us and highlighted the strong bonds between the African American Civil Rights and Disability Civil Rights movements. Read the rest of this entry »
(St. Louis, Missouri) Advocates and supporters packed into the Missouri History Museum on July 28 to welcome the Road To Freedom bus and crew and to hear local and national leaders call for restoration of the ADA. The event was produced by Paraquad, a private, not-for-profit community-based Center for Independent Living in partnership with the museum and with community partners including Cohen Hilberry Architects, Impact, Inc., Joni & Friends Gateway, and Linc, Inc. The speakers panel for the afternoon included Moderator Jim Tuscher, Paraquad; Jim Ward, ADA Watch and The Road to Freedom; David Newburger, Newburger and Vossmeyer, LLC and the Starkloff Disability Institute; Kyle Tate, Paraquad; Gina Hillberry, Cohen Hillberry Architects; and Max Starkloff, Starkloff Disability Institute. Read the rest of this entry »
(Washington, DC) We left the Freedom Bus behind in Chicago and jumped on a flight to be in Washington for the introduction of the ADA Restoration Act of 2007 on its 17th anniversary. ADA Watch has worked in coalition with the disability community in drafting and advocating for the introduction of this bill for more than 7 years now. It was an exciting day to be on the West steps of the U.S. Capitol overlooking the Mall as Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced the introduction of the ADA Restoration Act while surrounded by other members of Congress, as well as advocates including ADA Watch’s Jim Ward, ADA Watch Co-Chair and Executive Director of NDRN, Curt Decker, Marcie Roth, Becky Ogle, Andy Imparato, Elizabeth Goldberg and others. Read the rest of this entry »
(Chicago, Illinois) On July 25th, the day before the 17th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Freedom Bus and crew drove into the cavernous Festival Hall on Chicago’s Navy Pier for Access Chicago, the Midwest’s largest free exhibition of products and services for people with disabilities. It was also at this event where the city of Chicago was honored as the runner up in the National Organization on Disability’s (NOD) Accessible America Competition. Karen Tamley, the Commissioner of Mayor Daley’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), accepted the $10,000 Accessible America prize from our good friend and colleague, NOD President Michael Deland. Access Chicago is produced by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Under the direction of Commissioner Tamley, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) seeks to meet the diverse needs of the more than 600,000 people with disabilities who live and work in Chicago. The Road to Freedom pulled alongside several accessibible city buses which were part of a program that included adaptive sporting events, music and information booths representing hundreds of products and services.
(Chicago, Illinois) The Freedom Bus crew had the pleasure of joining a large group of advocates, board members and supporters at Access Living in Chicago. President and CEO, Marca Bristo welcomed speakers and participants at the new Access Living building, a beautiful universally designed headquarters that just opened. The featured speaker for the event was Gerard Quinn of Ireland, an international disability rights lawyer, who addressed how independent living is reflected in the Convention and the politics behind it. Marca and Gerard shared their personal stories about the behind-the-scenes sweat and tears that went into this work. Read the rest of this entry »
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin) With more than 200 attendees braving the weather, Milwaukee’s Road to Freedom event was coordinated by IndependenceFirst, one of the tour’s biggest sponsors. Being the “City of Festivals,” IndependenceFirst staff wanted to plan an event with music and entertainment that was inclusive of performers with disabilities. Alie Kriofske Mainella, Youth Leadership Specialist and Carol Voss, Public Relations and Marketing Manager headed up the planning committee with the help of Executive Director Lee Schulz, Associate Director Karen Avery and staff members Diana Sullivan and Patti Stengel. Read the rest of this entry »
From guest blogger Fil Clissa:
(Madison, Wisconsin) On Saturday July 14, Survival Coalition members and disability advocates greeted the 37 foot Freedom Bus and crew in front of the Public Library in Madison, WI. This event coincided with the Art Fair on the Square, one Madison’s signature events. The event attracted thousands of people who enjoyed the art, food and live music. We were joined by members of the local disability community — and some ADAPT members who traveled hours all the way from Superior — and together we were able to catch the attention of hundreds of people walking to and from the Art Fair.We passed out over 400 promotional Disability Rights “Fans” and take action cards and gathered petition signatures to support the ADA Restoration Act. Read the rest of this entry »
The Road To Freedom bus crew had every intention to make the long journey to join the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) in Washington, DC for their annual conference — this year celebrating 25 years of leadership. Well, with the fact-paced schedule we have been keeping and the need to catch-up on work (including updating this blog!) we painfully decided to take a needed pit-stop here in Wisconsin. We did want to celebrate with everyone so we sent off a letter that was read at the conference by NCIL executive director, John Lancaster. Read the rest of this entry »
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin) The Freedom Bus rolled into Milwaukee and the first stop on our schedule was with our number one sponsor, IndependenceFirst. Executive Director, Lee Schultz and his wife, Julie, treated the road crew — including the kids! — to lunch downtown. We then went on a tour of the center and met the staff of IndependenceFirst. The center is one of the largest independent living centers in the country with more than 90 in-house staff members and 1200 community care providers. Read the rest of this entry »
(Sioux Falls, South Dakota) We pulled into the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls and were greeted by the bus stop coordinator, Ryan Green of the state Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) as he was finishing up a TV interview about the event. We were soon joined by Shelly Pfaff of the South Dakota Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, whose member organizations helped organize and set up resource centers at the event. We were very proud to also be welcomed to Sioux Falls by Mayor Dave Munson. Read the rest of this entry »