Before and After: The ADA 31 Years Later
When Becky Segundo first joined the workforce in 1990, she often felt a sense of fear and anxiety. “Fear of failure to be successful working in the community. Of not being reliable due to finding out my limits I didn’t know I had. Not knowing how to express my needs and concerns due to feeling tongue-tied from anxiety,” she remembers. Becky soon started working with Beacon Group (then called Tetra Corporation) where she gained confidence in herself and many of her fears began to subside.
1990 was a significant year for another reason: on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, prohibiting discrimination based on disability. Unfortunately, many individuals, including Becky, who is visually impaired and has Asperger syndrome, were still unaware of their full rights under the ADA. “Had I been educated more; I may have considered working in the community. All I knew was my unfortunate experiences before starting at Beacon,” Becky says.
However, in the years since the ADA was passed, Becky has learned her rights and feels more empowered–to ask for assistance when needed due to her disabilities, to feel comfortable being social and not fearful of rejection, and to live independently…something she “never dreamed of when [she] was younger.” All these achievements may never have come to fruition had the ADA not been signed into law. Though there are still many ways society can improve on accessibility and attitudes surrounding disabilities, the ADA has made an immense impact and will continue to support and empower people with disabilities to seek out opportunities and reach their goals.