ADA 10


Spirit of the Torch Relay: A Look Back at ADA10

As we plan for ADA25 in 2015, we thought it would be fun to look back at ADA10 - the 10th anniversary of the ADA in 2000 - when the Spirit of the Torch Relay traveled across the country to connect people and communities. 

Relay news

24 cities of opportunity

By Karen Correll 

Improving the lives of people with disabilities. It doesn't sound like such a challenging task, but it is. The Americans with Disabilities Act has made things better, but the work is not over; there is much to be done.

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, federal protections against discrimination based on people1s disabilities were very gray. The ADA bans discrimination based on disability and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunication relay services.

Conditions have certainly improved since President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 10 years ago, but there is still much work to be done. Now, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the ADA, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has planned a 24-city, cross-country relay to take place from June 11-Aug. 7.

The goal of the Spirit of ADA Torch Relay is to inform, educate and reach out to people with disabilities. The relay challenges Americans to renew the pledge the country made to eliminate all barriers that limit opportunities available to people with disabilities.

George Bush, who signed the ADA into law in 1990, lit the initial torch in Houston in February. At the kickoff in Houston, tour organizers will merge that flame with the flame from the Martin Luther King Jr. torch in Atlanta to create the torch that will travel through 24 cities this summer.

"I think this is an excellent symbol of what the ADA is all about," said David Fowler of Katy, Texas, who will carry the torch in Houston. "As the ADA gets challenged more and more every day in the courts, I think it1s really important to bring attention to this."

In addition to the torch relay, "Marking Major Milestones" ceremonies will be held in 11 of the 24 appointed cities to recognize local milestones. Ceremonies will be held in Houston, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Auburn Hills/Detroit, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

The Spirit of the ADA Torch Relay will bring awareness to Americans of the disability issues that still need to be improved. As a result, we, as a nation, can work together to build accessible, inclusive and integrated communities.

"Liberty and justice for all" can come to fruition.

Everyone counts. Let's start counting on each other.

GM Backs ADA Torch Relay and iCan

By Nicole Bondi

When the disability community began celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act during the summer of 2000, General Motors took notice.

The No. 1 automaker was one of two major sponsors of the gala celebration July 26 in Washington, D.C., and helped iCan cover the relay by outfitting its road crew in a converted Chevrolet Venture.

"Our tagline is ‘You already have the motivation, what you need now is the transportation.’ That’s valid. The whole issue from our perspective is people with disabilities or mature adults are people," said John Gaydash, director of the GM Mobility Center, the division of GM sponsoring iCan's Torch Relay coverage and the ADA gala.

GM’s Mobility Center began last fall in an effort to bring more accessible vehicles to the disability community and older adults. As part of its efforts, the center has a team of current and retired GM employees looking at vehicles and considering ways to make them more accessible. Some of these features will be available on GM vehicles beginning in the 2001 model year: a brighter instrument panel that makes it easier to read, door handles that rotate 360 degrees, larger door openings.

"Those kinds of features we basically can put on all our products and improve their acceptance across the board," Gaydash said. "Those kinds of features are not only appealing to people with disabilities and mature adults, but they’re also appealing to (non-disabled) adults."

GM also will offer three minivans that can easily be converted with a ramp or lift. The vehicles, which will be sold at a lower price, will not come with all the seats and cupholders that get torn out in the conversion process.

"They’re going to save the costs associated with that (and) the customer should end up paying less for the vehicle," Gaydash said.

GM was the first automaker to offer a reimbursement program for people with disabilities. Someone who buys a GM vehicle and plans to modify it to accommodate a disability can receive a $1,000 reimbursement for the modifications. Since it started the program in 1991, GM has paid out more than $50 million.

As a sponsor at the ADA gala in Washington, D.C., GM showcased some of its accessible vehicles and had GM reprentatives on hand to answer questions about accessible transportation.

For a more thorough look back at the Torch Relay, we offer the following archived content in PDF format:

  • The Cities - a look at each stop along the Relay
  • Laws and Issues - a look at the ADA 10 years after its passage and the people who were involved in its creation
  • Views and Opinions - brief interviews with various people on the meaning of the Torch Relay
  • Related Events - a summary of other events that occurred alongside the Torch Relay
  • Relay News - news stories from various stops along the Torch Relay

(Content from archives of coverage of Spirit of the Torch Relay)