Friday, August 28, 2009

Ted Kennedy Advocated for Rights of Those with Special Needs

With the death of Ted Kennedy, the many Americans with special needs have lost one of their strongest allies in the government. According to his website, Senator Kennedy has authored more than 2,500 bills throughout his career in the United States Senate, of which several hundred have become law and many of which deal with protecting the rights of those with disabilities.

Being in the independent living business, we at MaxiAids ( deal on a daily basis with, and count among our staff, people in the various special needs communities including the blind, visually impaired, deaf, hearing impaired, and those with mobility, learning and developmental challenges.

In his many years of public service, Senator Kennedy was a great advocate for the rights of the members of these communities. Perhaps most notable among his accomplishments was his sponsorship of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Below is information from the Senator’s website describing his involvement in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the ADA, including a quote from Senator Harkin, co-sponsor of the ADA:

In 1988, Senator Kennedy passed amendments to extend the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to
include people with disabilities and families with children. By expanding the law, the amendments prohibited discrimination towards people with disabilities in the sale or rental of housing and in the terms, facilities and services provided. It also sets certain guidelines for remodeling and necessary modifications to a residence for both the landlord and the tenant.

Senator Kennedy was one of the chief sponsors of the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990, which ensures that millions of disabled Americans are able to live productive lives free from discrimination in public accommodations and employment. The ADA requires that public facilities accommodate the needs of disabled Americans, and that employers make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers.

Said Harkin, “I was thrilled when I arrived in the Senate to learn that Senator Kennedy ‘one
of the top leaders in the Senate’ shared the same passion. With his help, we were able to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and began to see real change. The law literally opened doors for people with disabilities, allowing them access to new employment opportunities, access to new places and access to fuller lives. But more importantly, the law began to change how those with disabilities were seen by others. Senator Kennedy has always dedicated his life to helping those who are too often ignored and this is no exception.”

Visit the Disability Rights section of Senator Kennedy’s website for more detailed information about the special-needs related legislation he supported during his decades-long tenure.

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