AMRPA Commemorates 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Widely regarded chief architect of the ADA, Lex Frieden says more still to be done for people with disabilities
(WASHINGTON – July 24, 2020) – In recognition of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Sunday, July 26, and in solidarity with all those living with disabilities that fought for its official signing into law in 1990, the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA) spoke with Lex Frieden. Widely considered the ADA’s chief architect, Frieden currently serves as the director of the Independent Living Research Utilization Program (ILRU) at TIRR Memorial Hermann. Providing a detailed account of where his journey — and consequently that of the ADA — began, Frieden told AMRPA a story of defining moments, multi-faceted advocacy and continued diligence.
Featured as part of the association’s newly launched series of Patient Success Stories, “Advocating for Change” brings light to not only the intricacies involved in lobbying various government constituencies, but also to Frieden’s personal story that led to him becoming an advocate for equal rights for those with disabilities. That story begins when he was involved in a severe accident in 1967, sustained a life-threatening spinal cord injury and was admitted to TIRR (now TIRR Memorial Hermann) for post-acute inpatient medical rehabilitation care.
Once his rehabilitation program was complete and he regained independency, Frieden told AMRPA, “I was shocked then to discover that I could not even be readmitted to the college because I had indicated on my application that I used a wheelchair for mobility, and that had a profound impact on my life. At that point, I would say I became a disability rights advocate.”
He went on to reflect on the decades of advocacy that led to the creation and passing of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA, and explained that this month’s 30th anniversary is a time to review areas that still need attention.
“It’s very clear to me that employment remains one of the biggest challenges for inclusion of people with disabilities. … We have not effectively changed the workplace,” said Frieden. Another major obstacle faced is health care, as “recent action by Congress and by the administration to take away access that was provided under the Affordable Care Act has had a profound impact on many people.”
Commenting on the ADA’s significance to medical rehabilitation, AMRPA Board Chair Dr. Robert Krug said, “The passing of the ADA 30 years ago had enormous implications on our industry and was a major step ensuring for ensuring equal rights and quality of life for the patients that our members treat. This anniversary and Lex Frieden’s story serve as inspirational reminders of what can be achieved when we work together towards a common goal. As we at AMRPA continue to represent our members to advance our field and pursue our vision to transform people’s lives through access to the highest quality of medical rehabilitation care, affecting positive, tangible change remains an omnipresent mission of ours and of our community.”
To connect with Lex Frieden and follow along on his ongoing journey, follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit its website.
To learn more about the life-changing care provided by TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital and talk with someone from their team, go to their website.
Explore the #powerofmedicalrehab by visiting this page on AMRPA’s website and reading other patient success stories, Challenging the Prognosis and Fighting for Mobility, An Impossible Embrace and From Tragedy to Triumph.