July 26th, 2022: Disability Advocates Getting it Done


July 26, 2022 | by Amber Smock

In the spirit of celebrating disability achievement in the struggle to realize our fullest personal liberation, we’re sharing exciting news which we hope will support millions of disabled people nationwide.

Today, disability communities across the nation celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark achievement in the history of disability civil rights. The ADA is a major piece of disability civil rights, along with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other key laws. The ADA was also amended in 2008 through the ADA Amendments Act. Disability rights, disability pride, disability justice: while each of these are distinct, Access Living strives to honor each all year round.

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the launch of the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP), which releases $1.75 billion in funds over the next five years to retrofit subway systems across the country. That means that each year, public transit authorities can apply for $350 million in funding to make subway systems more accessible. This opportunity came through the leadership of U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, with Access Living and fellow disability transportation advocates helping to push the initiative through Congress. The ASAP Program was inspired by Chicago’s own All Stations Accessibility Program (also known as ASAP) at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). CTA President Dorval Carter also played a leadership role in advancing the federal ASAP opportunity. Congratulations transportation advocates!

On a different transportation front, Access Living continues to work to advance accessibility on Amtrak. If you recall our advocacy in January of 2020 around outrageous pricing for accessible Amtrak seats, you will know that we and Senator Duckworth fought to ensure that a disability advocate could serve on the Amtrak governing board. We are pleased that the retired Executive Director of the U.S. Access Board, David Capozzi, has been nominated by President Biden to the Amtrak board and is awaiting confirmation. And, last month the Federal Railroad Administration directed Amtrak to establish and make public a policy and process for removing seats to accommodate large groups of passengers traveling in wheelchairs. We look forward to weighing in. 

In the area of education, the U.S. Department of Education issued critical guidance related to school discipline and students with disabilities. We have long known that students with disabilities, especially students of color, are at much higher risk of discriminatory school discipline. On page 2, there are instructions for accessing the guidance in multiple languages. We’d also like to highlight that the Family Resource Center on Disability (FRCD), based in Chicago, will host a webinar on July 30 on the IDEA and school discipline. You can register for the webinar at this link.

We are grateful for the advocacy and support provided by countless people with disabilities and allies, each and every day. One day a year is not enough to celebrate all our accomplishments. Thank you!