The ADA and Its Impact on Millions Is Part of George H.W. Bush’s Legacy

DES MOINES, Iowa -- "The ADA, which is the Americans with Disabilities Act, means a lot to me," said Jayde Henry – Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2012. "Because I wouldn't be having the rights and opportunities as everybody else."

Henry, who loves to drive around in her truck, prides herself on being able to live independently within the community. Henry credits the ADA with giving her that independence.

"Because otherwise we'd be confined to like an institution," said Henry. "Or...would have to stay home with our parents and not be able to be productive as an individual."

Courtney Nelson, a student at Drake University who was born with a form of dwarfism, says the ADA has been was the law of the land as long as she's been alive, and she can't imagine what life would be like without it.

"It`s probably likely that I might not even be at Drake...," said Nelson. "Or that just life in general would be harder for me, getting into buildings, doing things, going to the bathroom, things like that would be a lot harder on me than it is now. I`m not saying things are perfect, because they`re not, but I'm sure it's a lot better than it would be without the ADA there to enforce it."

The Drake University Archives help preserve the momentous occasion of the ADA becoming law, including a collection of framed documents and a signing pen from that day.

The bipartisan achievement that Senator Tom Harkin led the charge on and George H.W. Bush signed into law on July 26, 1990, has improved the lives of millions.

"Almost 30 years later, we`ve seen so many great ways that people with disabilities are considered equals in our community and throughout our country," said Joseph Jones, Executive Director of The Harkin Institute. "And it's because of that legislation, that really opened the door to get that going."