Commemorating National Disability Independence Day

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National Disability Independence Day, celebrated each year on July 26, commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law in 1990, which aimed to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

Inspired by civil rights struggles of the times, the movement to codify protections from discrimination for people with disabilities also aims for something broaderfull access and participation in education, employment and public life.

Toy blocks sit on table with child in the background.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was a huge step in this journey as it prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities for any entity receiving federal money. This had a profound impact on public education and presaged the passing of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, which opened the door for young people with disabilities to not only be included, but also to receive supports that would allow them to fully participate in educational services.

The Overlake Specialty School is a unique program coordinated with school districts, community service providers, families and others to meet the special needs of students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Overlake Specialty School would not exist without IDEA because all the students by definition have been assessed and found to have disabilities. This designation supports the provision of Individualized Education Programs designed to help the students progress in social, emotional, behavioral and academic areas.

Recognizing National Disability Independence Day demonstrates support for accessibility, inclusion and belonging for all community members.

Ideas on How to Celebrate

  • Exhibit works by artists with disabilities.
  • Sponsor a disability awareness poster contest.
  • Demonstrate the use of assistive devices at a community event.
  • Host an online or in-person discussion. Ask questions such as: What impact has the ADA had on your life?
  • Raise awareness by spreading the message.
  • Support artists with disabilities.
  • Educate yourself by researching and studying the history behind the disability movement.
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