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The ADA at 25: How One Law Helped Usher in An Age of Accessible Design

"What do you want?"

"Access!

"When do you want it?"

"Now!"

There are 82 stone steps up to the United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC, a relatively minor bit of trivia for the majority of legislators, tourists, and visitors who traverse them every day. But for those unable to walk up those steps, they're hallowed ground. In 1990, a group of activists and legislators were fighting to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a far-reaching piece of legislation that sought to guarantee equal rights for then roughly 40 million American citizens with disabilities, in part by changing the way architects designed buildings. The bill's potential financial implications had led lobbyists and legislators to bog down negotiations and create a stalemate in the House of Representatives. Patrisha Wright, a longtime advocate for the rights of people with disabilities who had earned the nickname "The General" for leading the ADA fight, felt it was time to make a statement.

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