The Push and Pull Towards an Inclusive Nation

Reflections on disability rights from civil legal aid attorney at the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act.

Blog Post (NATIONAL)

Talley Wells
July 27, 2015
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Tags: Disability Rights, U.S. Supreme Court

Organizations mentioned/involved: Atlanta Legal Aid Society


In the years since Olmstead and the passage of the ADA, we as a country have engaged in the difficult and revolutionary work of real inclusion. We have wrestled with what actions governments, businesses, and each of us must take to accommodate our fellow citizens who use wheelchairs and who have sight and hearing impairments. We have brought students who learn differently into our regular classes. And we have helped people return to their own homes who thought they would die in nursing facilities.

Along the way, we have learned the value of inclusion. Ramps assist people with disabilities, and also aging family members, parents with strollers, and, of course, our rolling suitcases. Assistive technology, smart phones, and computers have made life easier and more efficient for everyone – not just people with disabilities. And our workplaces, classrooms and communities benefit from the participation and contributions of people who formerly would have been unnecessarily locked away in institutions.

In our rapidly diversifying nation, the battle over inclusion will continue in politics, the courtroom, and our local neighborhoods. The nation should continue to look to our extraordinary disability community for how to do inclusion well. And yet… our nation must also recognize how far we have to go.