Today, July 26, 2010, marks the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which expanded civil rights protections given to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion to include individuals with disabilities. The ADA has guaranteed equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities to access businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs, services and telecommunications.
Earlier this month, two members of the Florida House Democratic Caucus – Reps. Bill Heller and Rick Kriseman — were recognized by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. for making extraordinary contributions to Floridians with developmental disabilities and received the Council’s “Outstanding Legislator” awards.
Representative Heller was honored for co-sponsoring HB 1073, a bill concerning notification of parents whose children are subjected to restraint and seclusion procedures in the classroom. “This additional oversight will go far toward protecting the welfare and rights of these children,” wrote Susan Gold, chair, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. in a July 6 congratulatory letter to Representative Heller.
Representative Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) was honored for his sponsorship of an amendment to Senate Bill 1166, a bill dealing with Planned Residential Communities. The amendment clarified that these communities would include individuals without disabilities as well as those with developmental disabilities.
“Your testimony on the House floor was important for those who believe that the segregation of individuals with disabilities is a large step into the past. We cannot thank you enough for your help with improving this legislation,” Gold wrote Representative Kriseman when announcing the group’s 2010 Outstanding Legislator Award.