Tag Archives: Disability Rights

Celebrating the Progress and Promise of the ADA

by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas

Twenty-five years ago, on July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA and the subsequent ADA Amendments Act, signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers and changing perceptions.  As a result, our society is more open and accessible to people with disabilities today than it was just a generation ago.

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Rabbi Lynne Landsberg

Honoring the 25-year Anniversary of the ADA and Rabbi Lynne Landsberg

On July 26, the United States will mark the 25 year anniversary of the signing of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was a landmark piece of disability rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for people with disabilities. It specifically prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations and public transportation, as well as discrimination by all local and state public entities. Twenty five years later, the ADA remains one of the most important pieces of disability rights legislation in the U.S. and an example to countries worldwide working towards advancing disability rights.

To mark this historic anniversary, the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition, a project of the American Association of People with Disabilities, will be hosting an interfaith event, From Access to Belonging: An Interfaith Service Celebrating the Progress and Promise of the ADA on Sunday July 26 from 3:00 – 5:00 PM. The service will be held at First Trinity Lutheran Church at 309 E Street NW in Washington, DC. The Service will be wheelchair accessible and sign language interpreted.

At the event, Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, the RAC’s Senior Advisor on Disability Rights will be honored with the inaugural Thornburgh Family Award in recognition of her years of service on behalf of people with disabilities. The award is named after U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, who helped negotiate the ADA with Congress, and Ginny Thornburgh, a long-time advocate for people with disabilities nationally and globally who specializes in inclusion in religious communities. The Thornburgh Family Award recognizes a religious leader who exemplifies the spirit of the ADA.

Rabbi Landsberg has been a leading voice on disability rights in the nation’s Capital and throughout the country for decades. First, in her role as Associate Director of the RAC, Rabbi Landsberg lobbied for the passage of the ADA twenty-five years ago. Then, after surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury in 1999, Lynne returned to the RAC as the Senior Advisor on Disability Rights in order to strengthen the Reform Movement’s advocacy for the civil and human rights of people with disabilities in order to ensure all people have equal access to religious and civic life.

In her role as the Senior Advisor on Disability Rights at the RAC, Lynne formed and co-chaired the Jewish Disability Network (JDN), a coalition of over two dozen Jewish organizations dedicated to disability rights and inclusion, and co-founded Hineinu, a historic and innovative collaboration of the Reform, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jewish Movements and Chabad dedicated to furthering disability inclusion in Jewish life. Rabbi Landsberg and the JDN played a leading role in advocating for the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. She serves on the steering committee of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition and continues to be a leading voice in DC and around the country for disability rights and inclusion.

Join us on Sunday, July 26 from 3:00 – 5:00 PM at First Trinity Lutheran Church to mark the 25 year anniversary of the ADA and honor Rabbi Lynne Landsberg for her disability advocacy!

No More Stumbling Blocks

Earlier this month, the UN held its Eighth Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in April 2006, is based on the ideals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is intended to empower persons with disabilities to be independent and productive. CRPD represents an international effort to bring the world closer to achieving the goals of equality, opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.

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Fostering Disability Inclusion in our Movements

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to the Orthodox Union for the biannual meeting of Hineinu representatives. Hineinu (“Here we are” in Hebrew) is an innovative collaboration of the disability professionals from each Jewish denomination that was launched in 2013. Consisting originally of the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform Jewish Movements, and now Chabad, Hineinu representatives share resources, support and direction in order to increase disability inclusion in our synagogues.

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mental health word cloud shaped like a brain

Marking Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of mental illnesses and the importance of mental wellness for all.  In our own country, an estimated 18.6 percent or 43.7 million Americans live with mental illnesses, and 4.1% or 9.6 million U.S. adults have a serious mental illness. Whether or not we have personally experienced a mental illness, no family or community is immune.

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Developing our own Holiness Code

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to deliver the following words before the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism at the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience:

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At Consultation: Spotlight on Disability Inclusion and Advocacy

On April 26, 2015, hundreds of Reform Jews will gather for the Consultation on Conscience, the Reform Movement’s flagship social justice conference.  That Sunday, participants will have the opportunity to hear from Ari Ne’eman, president and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults seeking to increase the representation of Autistic people across society; Liz Leibowitz, Legislative Associate at the Jewish Federations of North America; and Edie Mencher, Coordinator of the URJ-Ruderman Family Foundation Partnership for Inclusion of People with Disabilities. In the workshop “Ramping Buildings and Ramping Attitudes: Disability Inclusion and Advocacy,” the speakers will discuss best practices for including people with disabilities in Jewish communities and how to complement your inclusion efforts with disability rights advocacy.

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