On July 26, our nation celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights legislation prohibits discrimination against people with all types of disabilities and assures them the right to “equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.”
Over 25 years, the ADA has positively impacted the lives of millions of Americans and created a new generation as part of its legacy, the ADA Generation. This generation comprises youth and young adults with disabilities came of age under the aegis and opportunity of the ADA. The oldest of the ADA Generation are now in their early and mid-20s. Many are going to college or graduate school. Many are working in a wide variety of professional fields. And many are continuing the important work of advocacy—ensuring the continued promise of the ADA, fighting ongoing discrimination, and guaranteeing opportunity for generations of Americans to come.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA and the contribution and impact of the ADA Generation, IEL is collecting stories from youth and young adults with disabilities who grew up under the ADA and their allies. These stories can be personal narratives, reflections, or other creative work. IEL is particularly interested in stories related to transition to adulthood, including secondary and postsecondary education; work skills, internships, and employment; and independent living. IEL will publish selected stories on its website. IEL will also share them through social media and include them in IEL's ADA celebrations.
"The Institute for Educational Leadership has a long history of supporting youth transitioning to adulthood. For youth with disabilities, a core competency in the youth development process is gaining an understanding of disability history, culture, and public policy, as well as their rights and responsibilities. We started this project, because we wanted to celebrate the ADA, but we also wanted to provide an opportunity to hear from this important group of young people and share their experiences with others," said Curtis Richards, disability advocate and expert and director of IEL's Center for Work for Workforce Development.
IEL is partnering with the Disability Visibility Project for the #OurADAStories social media campaign. The campaign invites people of all ages to submit photos or messages about their ADA stories. Learn how to participate.
IEL encourages creativity in format, media, and content. Stories can be in written, graphic, or video form. Videos should be no longer than three minutes. Written submissions should be no longer than 500 words. All images should include captions. Submissions are due by July 1, 2015. Submissions must be original and will remain the copyrighted property of their authors. IEL is unable to provide monetary compensation for the stories. Submissions and questions can be sent to Dana Fink at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover Photo: A group of youth and mentors from IEL's career-focused Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program for youth with disabilities stands on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Copyright 2014 Institute for Educational Leadership