Reflections from a Career in Public Service on The Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Gary Norman
A guide dog in harness

A guide dog in harness

To experience a sense of awe when approaching the floor-to-ceiling stained glass U.S. flag window located in the front lobby of the Robert J. Dole Institute for Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence means one has been present with it on a sensory level. Senator Dole’s commitment to accessibility and the rights of disabled Americans is fairly well-known. The opportunity to touch that window, as a blind person, impressed on me the enormity of what it truly means to dedicate one’s life to equality in the law and public service.

In 2020, we celebrate another anniversary of a bipartisan civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended. President George H.W. Bush delivered remarks hailing the ADA as a new birth of freedom for people with disabilities. For those of us who have disabilities, the path to public service proves more challenging than it does for others. Yet, both that impressive Old Glory in Stained Glass window and my opportunity to write this today would not be possible without the contributions of lawyers committed to public service.

 

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