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Published: October 21, 2020
Celebrating 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Serina Gilbert poses with her assistance dog

Each July, The IC celebrates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with an in-person event. Hundreds of Serina Gilbert poses with her assistance dogpeople attend the free luncheon to network and learn more about the issues facing people with disabilities. This year, however, COVID-19 left the organization with two choices: cancel or get creative. With 2020 marking the ADA’s 30th anniversary, canceling wasn’t an option. So we got creative and hosted it online!

“We knew that gathering together this year wouldn’t be possible,” said Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC. “So we did what people with disabilities have always done. We adapted!”

The theme for 2020 was “ADA: Celebrating 30 Years.” The landmark legislation was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees that they have equal opportunity to participate in American life, including employment, access to goods and services, and the ability to take part in state and local government programs and services.

A powerhouse line-up of speakers reflected on life before and after the ADA and spoke about the challenges that remain. To maintain social distancing guidelines, each speaker was recorded separately and edited into an hour-long video that streamed on Youtube on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. The video was captioned and an American Sign Language interpreter translated the event for the d/Deaf community.

KRDO anchor Heather Skold emceed the event. She was joined by Judy Heumann, internationally renowned disability Heather Skold stands behind a lecturn.advocate, who spoke on Accessibility; Tony Gannet, Draper Commons, who spoke on Housing; Andrew Winders and Serina Gilbert, Department of Vocational Rehab, who spoke on Employment; Julie Reiskin, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, who spoke on Disability Awareness; and Paul O’Brien, Canine Companions for Independence, who spoke on Service Animals. Mayor John Suthers also made a special appearance to give an update on accessibility progress in Colorado Springs.

While the in-person connections were missed, streaming the event allowed The IC to spread its message of equal rights for people with disabilities to an even wider audience. Over 4,000 viewers tuned in for at least some portion of the event, and at one point, 375 were viewing at the same time.

A post-event survey found that participants enjoyed being able to watch and learn remotely in an accessible format. One respondent said, “It was super easy to access and the technology was perfect.” Another noted that “The content is always perfect every year. It was so seamless. Everyone who put this together did a superb job!” Yet another raved, “Captioning (was) right on; speakers easy to hear; nice, tight agenda and pace. Quite impressive!”

Thank you to everyone who joined us and helped make this unconventional event a success. We look forward to seeing you – whether in person or virtually – at next year’s ADA Celebration Event!

Click here to watch the video of this year’s event.

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