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Delaware Health and Social Services

DHSS Press Release

Date: July 9, 2015

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498


DOVER (July 9, 2015) - Delaware will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the inclusion of Delawareans with disabilities in all aspects of community life during an outdoor celebration Saturday, July 18, on Legislative Mall in Dover. Former U.S. Rep. Tony Coelho, the author of the ADA who now lives in Rehoboth Beach, will provide the keynote address.

The free family-friendly event will kick off at 11 a.m. with a parade down Loockerman Street in Dover. The celebration, which will continue until 5 p.m. on both Loockerman Street and Legislative Mall, will include live music and entertainment, vendors, exhibitors, giveaways and an official program, including former U.S. Rep. Tony Coehlo, Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf, state Rep. Debra Heffernan, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, Jill Houghton, director of the US Business Leadership Network, and Delawareans with disabilities representing the past, present and future of the ADA. The event will be accessible to those who have access and functional mobility needs, and will take place rain or shine.

The Dover event also will be a stop on the national tour of the U.S. Business Leadership Network's America's Disability Rights Museum on Wheels, the country's first disability rights mobile museum. The mobile museum helps visitors to understand that the ADA is a civil rights law, engages young people in interactive learning experiences, educates the public on the history of human rights violations and the community engagement that led to the ADA's passage, and highlights the possibilities for the next 25 years through the use of innovative and connective technologies. The bus is fully accessible.

"The ADA is now the law of the land in 52 countries and it has paved the way for people to have their basic rights," ADA author and former Rep. Tony Coelho said. "There is still a lot of work to do regarding the employment and transportation needs of people with disabilities, but it is important for us to commemorate and celebrate the amount of progress we have made during the past 25 years on behalf of millions of people."

"I am thrilled that Tony Coelho will join us in Delaware to celebrate the inclusion that his historic legislation has helped to foster," Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said. "We are a better and stronger community when we all share our gifts and talents with each other. While we have much work to do, especially in the areas of employment and health care for people with disabilities, the ADA means that individuals can no longer be discriminated against simply because of their disability status. Those basic civil rights for people with disabilities are the cornerstone of what it means to be a fully participating member of our society."

"To quote the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act, 2000), Disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to exert control and choice over their own lives, and to fully participate in and contribute to their communities through full integration, and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of United States society," said Pat Maichle, executive director of Delaware's Developmental Disabilities Council. "The Americans with Disabilities Act gave Americans with disabilities the civil rights that they are due as American citizens to be able to be included in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream just like everyone else. Delaware is committed to the full implementation of the ADA!"

"The ADA transformed the entire fabric of American life for individuals with disabilities. Transportation, employment, building access, government programs - all were significantly improved by enactment of the ADA," said Brian Hartman, Disabilities Law Project Director with Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. "Twenty-five years later it is important to renew our commitment to the ADA's promise by actively promoting its implementation and enforcement."

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as the ADA, was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. Bush. The groundbreaking civil rights legislation prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and transportation. About one in five people has a disability, or about 57 million Americans, including 187,000 Delawareans.

A coalition of local and national organizations including the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC), the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the Governor's Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC), the United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN), the State Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD), the Disabilities Law Program (DLP), the Center for Disabilities Studies (CDS), Endless Possibilities in the Community (EPIC), United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware (UCP DE), Independent Resources, Inc. (IRI), the City of Dover and Easter Seals of Delaware (ESDEL) is organizing the Dover celebration.

To learn more or to participate in the July 18 event, contact Stefanie Lancaster at 302-739-3333 or

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Last Updated: Thursday July 16 2015
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