July 25-26, 2009

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Still more needs to be done with ADA, say advocates

Nelson Lauver overcame his own issues,
includingdyslexia and funcational
illiteracy to become a broadcaster,
humorist and motivational speaker

HYDE PARK – A generation has passed since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and during a gathering at the FDR Presidential Library it was stated that there is still work to do for more inclusiveness.

“Why is it 19 years after the passage of the ADA,” said Robert Gumson, manager of Independent Living Services for the New York State Education Department. “We still have people with disabilities living in nursing homes?”

 Gumson was a speaker during Strive, Survive and Thrive, a celebration sponsored by Taconic Resources for Independence, and his frustration was mixed with stories of success and the ADA’s recent history of helping to break down barriers to ensure more accessibility for those with disabilities.

“There have been gains. There is law that supports the needs of individuals,” said Cynthia Fiore, executive director of Taconic Resources for Independence. There is participation in the community. But there is still work to do, and in all areas, people are still having difficulties.”

Fiore said jobs and education are still mighty hurdles for those with disabilities as mobility gains, such as taxis equipped to serve them, have taken hold.

“It is still a work in progress,” she said.  “Not everyone with disabilities owns their own car – and getting around is very difficult,” she said. Fiore also pointed to securing a good education and job as difficult tasks for the handicapped.

One of the greatest examples of a famous person with a handicap cited was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who contracted polio in the early 1920s as a 39-year-old during the beginning of the prime of his professional and political life.

“He went to bed one night,” said Jeff Urbin, an education specialist at the library, “and when he woke up he was never able to walk unassisted again.”


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