18th Anniversary ADA Celebration - Washington, DC


Remarks for Sherry Little, Deputy Administrator

18th Anniversary ADA Celebration

DOT Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

 On behalf of President Bush and Transportation Secretary Peters, I am proud to join you today to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This legislation is one of America’s greatest civil rights achievements. I am also enormously proud of FTA’s unflagging commitment to the letter and spirit of the ADA.

FTA has done a wonderful job integrating the principles of ADA into its policies and programs, to help ensure that transit is accessible to all persons with disabilities who wish to use it.

We have succeeded in making sure that all but a tiny fraction of the nation’s transit bus fleets are accessible.

And we continue to reach out to transit operators and disability advocates around the country, by providing training to help them understand what it takes to meet the requirements of ADA. . . We have sponsored 7 training sessions over the past two years, with 5 more sessions planned in the coming months.

I want to be sure you know about one of our newest initiatives. . . . FTA is pairing up with partners in the nonprofit community,  including Easter Seals Project Action,  to create new materials to provide technical assistance and summarize ADA compliance requirements for transit operators.

We’re also working to make it simpler and easier for transit riders to know their accessibility rights, so they can communicate even more effectively with advocacy groups and transit providers.

And I’m pleased to announce that FTA recently approved $200,000 for research funds to study the benefits of so-called “way-finding” tools that could ultimately improve mobility for persons with disabilities when they travel, by creating a more seamless way to access information about transit services, routes, and schedules across city and state lines.

Eventually, you’ll be able to access all the information you need on transit from virtually any device – a computer, Blackberry, cell phone, etc.

But we’re not there yet. . . and we know that today, public transit is still not available to all persons with disabilities – especially those living in rural communities. . . Yet these folks need and deserve the same degree of mobility as people living in more densely populated neighborhoods,  where transit is common.

That’s why we’re moving ahead with the American Public Transit Association and other stakeholders to promote integrated transportation solutions that bring private and public bus, taxi, and van operators together to meet the needs of individuals requiring paratransit services.

Our ultimate goal is to look past the barriers of public versus private. . . look beyond one mode versus another. . .  to identify the most efficient and reliable ways to help persons with disabilities get to work, to school, to the doctor’s, to special events, and more.

I think we’ve come a very long way in the 18 years since ADA became law. . . And I know that working together, there’s more we can do.

I want to share with you these words from a late 19th century writer,  Orison Marden,  who believed in the power of positive thinking:
“Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.”

I think those are words we can all live by today.

Thank you so much.