Among the thousands paying their final respects to President George Herbert Walker bush this week, were folks whose lives he changed forever in 1990.
“Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” said Bush during his signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I describe it as a dramatic moment,” said Ed Paquin, Disability Rights Vermont Executive Director.
Paquin began using a wheelchair after an injury two years before Bush signed ADA.
“George Herbert Walker Bush was able to understand the nature of the need and was willing to work with all sides,” he said.
The civil rights law forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life.
“Both literally and figuratively, it opened doors, it opened doors for people with disabilities to access the things that otherwise were really being shut out of,” said Hugh Bradshaw, Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living.
Bradshaw says one in five Vermonters are living with a disability.
Paquin says while the ADA made great strides, there is still work to be done.
“Developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, and other kinds of disabilities particularly those that are not physically obvious,” he said.
Paquin says he and others with disabilities are grateful for the efforts made by the late president and how it also brought people together.
“Both sides of the aisle and a lot of other outside interests, people who were essentially not political but who had a social interest,” he said.