Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25

Supporters say there's still a lot of work to be done


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Life wasn't easy for Americans living with disabilities a quarter of a century ago. The 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a cause for celebration, but it doesn't mean the work is done.

Advocates have called on employers to tap in to what they call a mostly underutilized talent pool of workers that have disabilities.

John Kemp said there's no comparison between 2015 and 1990.

"It's so much better today because of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Kemp said.

Kemp was instrumental in getting the law signed 25 years ago. It helped break down many walls that were holding people with disabilities back from living a normal life.

"The more that we've been able to include people with disabilities into the fabric for America, it lifts all boats, it increases the exchange, the understanding and the appreciation of all people," Kemp said.

Supporters marched through Florida's capital city to mark the 25th anniversary of the law that banned discrimination for people with disabilities.

But many in attendance said there was still a lot of work to be done.

Florida advocates for the disabled agreed that things are better today. But the gaps remain in employment.

"If we're truly to be sustainable, if we're going to benefit from our diversity and the richness and the talents of all people, individuals with disabilities need to be included," J.R. Harding said.

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the state is doing everything it can to make sure students with disabilities aren't left behind.

"We've done great work in the state of Florida with our students with disabilities and actually exceed the national average in our growth with students with disabilities," Stewart said.

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities hovers around 13 percent -- a number many would like to see decrease dramatically in the next 25 years.