What the ADA means to me.


I am Jennifer Keefe. Born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. I refuse to let it define me. This is my disability and diagnosis. Not a death sentence!

Like anyone living in the world, we all want an equal and fair opportunity. Discrimination as I knew it, changed due to an act that was inaugurated by the 101st Congress: The Americans with Disabilities Act (July 26, 1990) under the direction of President George H.W. Bush, and with a stroke of a pen, he was able to give hope to 13.2 million that were faced with a disability on a daily basis.

I was one of those people. This act allowed me to roll forward into the future with confidence and ambition that I could be treated fairly. No longer did someone with a disability have to worry about how they were treated in the public sector. We now had and still have an umbrella of protection.

Americans With Disabilities Act is comprised of five titles:

Title I : Employment
Title II : Public Services
Title III : Public Accommodations
Title IV : Telecommunications
Title V : Miscellaneous

Originally, the Americans With Disabilities Act was designed to give people with disabilities an equal playing field in the area of employment. However, our civil rights also fall under this umbrella providing protection for all areas of public life.
–  This piece of legislation shifted the paradigm in America. People with disabilities no longer depended on just saying, see me? A voice with a soul was added, bringing myself and millions like me to life!
–  My story is simple; I have cerebral palsy since birth. Never did I think I would be a part of history, like the Americans With Disabilities Act has done. It has allowed me to be a part of the workforce of America and give me opportunities otherwise not afforded. I have watched employers who gave opportunities smile because I was a vital part of what made them thrive. Having that experience changed my life. Digging down deep it allowed me to find out who I am on the inside and the outside!
The ADA has changed my life then and now. In 1990, there were 13.2 million people just like me, suffering from disabilities. We are all the same, and yet each of us is unique. Today there are 61 million people with disabilities.  Mobility, spinal cord injuries, Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy are just a few of the diagnoses on the disability spectrum in the year 2021.
I am not by any means leaving out the Americans that are struggling with mental challenges on a daily basis.
–  Mental illness, depression and anxiety or just a few also included in this category. Let us not forget the men and women that protect our freedom daily. They courageously sign up serve protect and defend this great country we call America.
–  41% of post 9/11 veterans have a disability compared to 25% of veterans in other eras.
–  4.7 million or 26% of veterans who served have some type of combat /service related disability or injury. This number is even greater than that of those who served in World War II.
– Thank you for letting me share my story and a brief history of a document that changed my life. I hope that this will bring understanding of people who have never heard of the ADA. Here is to adapting the next 30 years!