CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Opening Remarks of Chairman Bill Frist

                Opening Remarks of Chairman Bill Frist
               Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy
              Forum on the Americans with Disability Act
                            July 26, 1995
 
 I am pleased that, on the fifth anniversary of the Americans with
 Disabilities Act, our guests and friends have joined us for this
 forum on the ADA.  This event is one of many events where the hope
 and promise of the ADA will be celebrated.  Celebrations are
 important, they help us remember what happened on a specific date
 and why.  But, anniversary celebrations are the easy part.
 
 On July 26, 1990, July 26, 1992, July 26, 1994, America's face
 began to change.  We began to expect more from each other and from
 ourselves.  Environments changed.  Opportunity mushroomed.  And
 slowly new attitudes emerged.
 
 Why?  Because people of good faith and intentions, many of whom are
 in this room, came together to craft a law that was needed,
 balanced, and right -- the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The
 ADA is solid legislation.  It has survived tests and challenges in
 its brief life.  It will endure.
 
 Although we come here in celebration, I suspect some people may
 have a sense of loss -- lost energy and effort that came so easily
 when the ADA was an idea to be dreamed and shaped; lost single
 purposeness that helped many put a side differences and work toward
 a common goal; and lost urgency, no longer do many behave as if
 they must seize the moment and make it count.
 
 There is energy in this room.  There is spirit in this room.  There
 is leadership in this room.  Let's use it to restore the
 excitement, commitment, and influence that led to that sunny day on
 the White House lawn five years ago.
 
 As we grapple with the strategies and messages that will emanate
 from our renewed comraderie, commitment, and purpose, we must
 remember these points.
 
 The ADA is a success, demonstrated in part by its invisibility.
 Curb cuts are numerous.  Bathrooms are accessible.  Parking places
 are reserved.  Directional sings are brailled.  More television
 programming is captioned.  These things are becoming commonplace.
 They are assumed, expected, and ignored.  None of these things
 comes with a sign that reads, "Complements of the ADA."  Yet they
 stand as silent monuments to what has been achieved.
 
 The challenges that remain are more subtle.  They require patience
 and negotiation.  They are most likely to be met and resolved by a
 desire for results not credit, partnership not confrontation, and
 creativity not inflexibility.
 My vision of tomorrow -- as a Senator, as a Chairman, as a
 physician, as a husband and father -- is founded on the belief that
 we will make the time, find the energy and build the new
 partnerships needed to make civil rights for individuals with
 disabilities something that all Americans accept, expect, and
 protect.  Disability then will be viewed as through the eyes of a
 child, as a fascinating difference not a cause for discomfort.
 People of broad experience and diverse abilities will be thrown
 together in school, at work, and at play by happenstance, talent,
 and interest not because of rules or obligations.  The ADA will
 make all that happen.  That is as it should be.