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Disabled advocates celebrate ADA, seek more legislative help

Ellen Abbott
March celebrating the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Disabled advocates in central New York are celebrating the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA. While that law has improved access for millions of disabled Americans, advocates say there are still issues that need to be faced.

Hundreds of disabled central New Yorkers marched peacefully in downtown Syracuse Tuesday, celebrating what’s gone right with the landmark ADA legislation, but also looking at what still needs to be done. They’re urging action on one piece of proposed federal legislation that would help disabled people get the long-term support they need to stay at home, instead of being institutionalized.

Syracuse activist Sally Johnston urges lawmakers to consider passing the Disabilities Integration Act.

"It just adds to ADA. Because ADA says that people should live in the least restrictive environment, and many of us are still in nursing homes and other institutional settings. So we still have that to work on,” said Johnston.

Kate Corbett Pollack, of Syracuse, says another issue that’s come to the forefront in the disability world is the death of disabled individuals at the hand of police.

"We recently saw this in the news with the autistic young man and his caretaker, who was shot by police. They didn’t understand that he was with an autistic person. And I think this also happens with mentally ill, deaf people. All kinds of disabled people experience this. We need more education in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.”

Advocates hope these issues and others affecting the disabled community are part of the discussion during this presidential election season.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.