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On 'Americans With Disabilities Act' Anniversary, SWFL Residents Reflect on Pitfalls & Progress

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Photo: Public Domain via Pixabay
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

It’s been 27 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. The law has helped people with disabilities live their lives through physical accessibility, public services, and working against discrimination. ADA Advocates at the  Gulf Coast Center for Independent Living say much has changed for the better, but more needs to be done.

Before the ADA, people in wheelchairs weren’t guaranteed access to public spaces. The blind were not guaranteed a voting ballot in Braille, or access to their ballots by other electronic assistance. And landlords could deny potential renters based on the additional needs they may have. Modern accommodations help those with disabilities to be included in the public sphere, and more able to fully exercise their rights.

Michael Pierce, an ADA Advocate and independent living specialist with the Center for Independent Living Gulf Coast, joins the show to discuss the progress that’s been made since the ADA was signed into law. Pierce says Fort Myers is the “gold standard” when it comes to accessibility for the disabled, and we’ll find out why.

Also joining the show is Renee Sluzalis with the Center for Independent Living, who will explain how the center is marking the ADA anniversary by partnering with local fitness experts to issue the “Adaptive Fitness Challenge,” a CrossFit-style workout focused on the needs of disabled participants.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.