The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, granting equality of opportunity for our nation’s more than 43 million Americans who experience one or more physical or mental disabilities. Considered the most sweeping piece of civil rights legislation in over 25 years, ADA extends protection to qualified individuals with disabilities in many key areas including employment, public services and transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications.
In November 1990, in light of the emphasis on “people first” language and effort to recognize that persons experiencing disabilities are vital, contributing members of the community, a movement was started to change the name of ADEC. Following input from individuals with whom we work, staff, families and the community, a decision was made to use ADEC as a name instead of an acronym. A tagline was also added – “Resources for Independence.” On May 23, 1991, ADEC’s 15th birthday, ADEC…Resources for Independence was unveiled as the new name.
Over the course of several months in 1996, ADEC staff and constituents discussed the organization’s direction for the future. ADEC’s plan reflected the watchwords of the day, “community inclusion,” which meant providing services that better connected individuals to their communities. ADEC’s plan was developed in part because the nature of services in all areas was changing, with the focus moving from working with children and adults in segregated, facility-based environments to working with children and adults in natural settings. Emphasis was also placed on an individual’s choice – the ability of families and persons served to choose what services they wanted and who they wanted to provide these services.
Other forces at work in the mid- to late-1990s included a strong focus on the following: self-advocacy, the value of the contributions consumers make in their local communities, consumer choice and an increase in non-paid interaction between consumers and community members.