Sunday, July 11, 2010

Twenty Years of ADA

Aimee Wehmeier remembers maneuvering her motorized wheelchair out of a local grocery store about five years ago when a man in the parking lot gave her a quarter. She was puzzled by his action and asked what the quarter was for.

“To help you,” he replied.

She laughs about it even now, joking about what practical use a quarter is for anyone — in or out of a wheelchair.

Wehmeier, who has muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair her entire life, certainly wasn’t raised to put her hand out to depend on an occasional quarter for sustenance.

“My mom told me, ‘You better get a good job because you’ll never wait tables,’” she recalled. So, taking Mom’s advice, she left St. Charles after graduating from Francis Howell North High School in 1989 and moved to Columbia that summer.

It was one year before then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. ADA was considered the most comprehensive policy statement ever made regarding civil rights for people with disabilities.

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