County Comment: Monday Marks 20th Anniversary of ADA

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County Comment
Monday Marks 20th Anniversary of ADA
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

July 26th, 2010, marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark civil rights legislation that opened doors for millions of Americans to full and prosperous lives.
The Act was signed into law on July 26th, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, and was reauthorized in 2008 when President George W. Bush signed into law the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
Washington County government complies with ADA in all of its programs and activities. No one may be discriminated against based on disability in any program under the auspices of the Board of County Commissioners.
The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It is similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. The ADA defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity," and determination of disability is made on a case by case basis.
Inside County Government, the Office on Disabilities Issues serves as the coordination point for ADA matters, and acts as an information and referral resource for citizens for such matters that may not fall under the aegis of the County. An office of this type has existed within cont government for over 25 years.
The Disabilities Advisory Committee (DAC) to the Washington County Board of County Commissioners provides advice and expertise to the Board of County Commissioners on matters of community importance and concern to citizens who have disabilities. The DAC is made up of people who have disabilities as well as non-disabled people. The membership is composed of, but not limited to, consumers, care givers, professionals in various disabilities-oriented service careers, elected officials, and local government employees.
The DAC meets monthly, on the second Wednesday, at 12:30pm in the Community Room of Christ Reformed Church, floor 2-R, 140 W. Franklin Street in the Aspire to Serve Building. Meetings are open and the public is invited to attend.
Citizens of Washington County who would like to serve on the Committee may contact the Office of the County Clerk to register, and may sign up on-line atwww.washco-md.net/boards. Terms of service are three years, and are staggered, so that new members are nominated each year.
A statewide celebration of the anniversary was being held on Monday the 26th in Baltimore. Governor Martin O'Malley said, "The Americans with Disabilities Act was a major milestone in ensuring that each individual has equal opportunity to make a positive difference in this world. On this, the 20th anniversary of the ADA, we are deeply committed to the principles of the ADA and ensuring that Marylanders with disabilities receive the same basic freedoms - independence, equal access, freedom of choice and inclusion - afforded to every citizen in our State and in our country."