The ADA: Is It a Happy Anniversary?
by Dana LaMon
Blinded since age four, Dana LaMon is a graduate of Yale and USC Law School. He is a retired administrative law judge.
I was just shy of twelve years old when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. About the time of the passage of the Act, Edward Roberts had graduated from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), a university where some officials expressed disfavor with having a quadriplegic student. Ed was admitted to UCB but had difficulties finding housing that would accommodate his iron lung in which he had to sleep. Ed helped start the disability rights movement. An early benefit of the movement was the establishment of the first independent living center, where employees with disabilities served clients with disabilities.
Although I became blind at age four, it was not until I was twenty-six years old that I learned about the disability rights movement and about people with disabilities other than blindness. I accepted the position of executive director for an independent living center in Long Beach. My employees included a woman with emphysema, a woman with dwarfism, a man with epilepsy, a man with one leg amputated, a man paralyzed from the waist down (paraplegia), and a man who was deaf. The commonality among the seven of us was that we wanted to work and exercise our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.