Columbia hosts a 25th anniversary celebration for the ADA

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COLUMBIA - The Americans with Disabilities Act turned 25 on Sunday and members of the community reflected on how the Act has changed lives for the disabled. 

Representatives from more than 10 groups and organizations gathered at the Orr Street Studios to hear presentations about the ADA's success. 

Tec Chapman, executive director for Services for Independent Living, grew up around kids with disabilities since his mother was a special education teacher and has seen how the ADA has changed people's lives. 

He said the ADA was built around the Civil Rights movement and helped students with disabilities get a public education. 

"You started to see a different perception of people with disabilities," Chapman said. "They're people just like each and every one of us."

He said he has seen improvements in the community through physical access, by people adding ramps and elevators to businesses. 

Chapman also said there is still more people can do to include people with disabilities. 

"I hope in the next year we tackle the unemployment rate for people with disabilities," Chapman said.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 9.3% of people with disabilities are unemployed verses the 5.5 % unemployment rate for people without disabilities. 

According to Chapman, people with disabilities are three times more likely to be living in poverty.

"Hopefully 25 years from now at the 50th anniversary we are talking about that we are all people and we all want the same hopes and dreams and aspirations," Chapman said. 

The next event for the ADA is "Etiquette, Sensitivity and People First Language" on August 25 at noon at Boone Electric Cooperative in Columbia.