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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News Tribune Gov. Mike Parson spoke briefly Tuesday before presenting a proclamation in celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act 30 years ago.

Many people alive today — with disabilities or not — grew up after the passing into law 30 years ago of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the legislation continues to play an important role in people's lives, even while much work is left to be done.

ADA's 30th anniversary was celebrated Tuesday at the Missouri Capitol.

The law has made possible access for people with disabilities to housing, parks, playgrounds, entertainment venues, public buildings, transportation and communication, as well as inclusion in schools, colleges and the workplace.

Event speaker Amber Cheek said the ADA "is a relic of a time when segregation and prejudice against people with disabilities was the norm" — when merely being able to have access to a building was a revolutionary concept — but the law is also a "living, breathing thing."

Cheek is with the University of Missouri's Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.

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She said young people with disabilities today now ask not why they can't enter a building, but why can't they enter through the front entrance as everyone else.

Cheek said future work in disability rights is about "proactively baking accessibility into everything we do," making sure people with disabilities have full access and engagement with every aspect of civic life.

Madelyn Hubbs — a Missouri Youth Leadership Forum alumna — said she grew up after ADA was passed, never having to think twice about whether she would get the same education as her peers, for example.

However, Hubbs said she's come to realize there's a whole history of struggle behind the fight to win those rights she enjoys — a cause people have been arrested for, at times.

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She said there are still "social and attitudinal barriers" in society for people with disabilities — such as professors of hers who did not believe she needed accommodations in class, even though they're legally owed to her, or people who look at her with pity or as an inspiration just for doing ordinary activities.

Hubbs does not have one arm, but she doesn't want any pity.

"If only they knew I am the person I am today because I am missing one arm," she said.

She said she's living her life, just like anybody else.

There are physical and other structural barriers that remain in front of equal access for people with disabilities, though.

Claudia Browner, executive director of the Missouri Governor's Council on Disability, said in the next five or 10 years, there's a lot of work to be done with technology, including making sure websites are accessible for everyone.

A slide show from the disability council that was played during part of Tuesday's celebration also noted other ongoing needs: making sure access to buildings for everyone is a universal norm in all future design; making sure accessible housing is affordable; constructing curb cuts to make sidewalks and crosswalks accessible; offering accessible and safe ride share services; and offering competitive employment.

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Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt also spoke at Tuesday's event — Parson bringing up the state's effort to increase state workforce participation by people with disabilities.

Browner said young people are "part of what's going to lead the change," after having grown up with the education that "disability is just another character trait," and inclusion should be valued.

As the disability council's slide show played, so too did Sam Doman — for him, a violin.

Doman is a Blair Oaks R-2 Class of 2020 graduate going to Missouri State University in the fall to major in music education, and he played a classical set Tuesday.

He said the ADA, for him, means inclusion. Blind since birth, he's been able to have a school environment he could physically navigate because of the law.

Going forward, he said, "the message needs to be spread to a wider audience" that people with disabilities don't need pity. "In reality, we're just trying to go about (our) business."

The disability council's slide show is available at disability.mo.gov/ada30.htm.

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