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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2011

Illinois Department of Human Services Celebrates 21st Anniversary of Historic Americans With Disabilities Act
Governor Quinn proclaims July 14 as Americans with Disabilities Act Day

CHICAGO – In honor of the 21st anniversary of the historic signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed July 14, 2011 as Americans with Disabilities Act Day in the state of Illinois.  To celebrate, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) sponsored a special event showcasing Illinois’ commitment to ADA at the James R. Thomson Center in Chicago.

“We’re committed to keeping the promise of equality and continuing to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities,” said IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler.  “During fiscal year 2011, the IDHS Division of Rehabilitation Services helped nearly 4,500 individuals enter the workforce and live independently.  The Americans with Disabilities Act has been instrumental in changing public attitudes and facilitates greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in today’s society."

This year’s celebration, “Keeping the Promise of Equality,” highlights the talents and accomplishments of people with disabilities through an art exhibit, entertainment provided by performers with disabilities, interactive exhibits, workshops and a three-on-three wheelchair basketball exhibition.

The “Keeping the Promise of Equality” celebration encourages the state and persons with disabilities to work together in the same spirit that accompanied the original enactment of this law.  This celebration highlights the contributions of persons with disabilities in Illinois, as well as their everyday challenges and successes.  It also serves as a reminder to every citizen of the importance of civil rights protections for Illinois residents and facilitates broader awareness about an inclusive society.

For the last 21 years, IDHS has joined with a coalition of other state agencies and councils to sponsor a statewide event commemorating the passage of the ADA, which was signed into law in 1990.  The celebration not only recognizes the accomplishments of people with disabilities, it shows how state agencies, programs and other organizations have worked to implement the law.  Illinois has a long standing history of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, going back more than 30 years to the passage of the Illinois Human Rights Act (December 6, 1979), which prohibits discrimination against any person with a “physical or mental disability.”
      
For more information about IDHS programs and services for persons with disabilities, please visit www.dhs.state.il.us.
 



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