Written by Kathy Mintchev, Greenwich Academy, Class of 2022
Monday was a day of commemoration and celebration for The Café at Greenwich Library.
July 26, 2021 marked the 31st anniversary of the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush.
First Selectman Fred Camillo declared July 26th Americans with Disabilities Day in the town of Greenwich.
Alan Gunzburg, chair of the First Selectman’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, and Amy Montimurro, CEO and president of Abilis, joined Camillo to speak about the importance of the ADA.
“It’s a momentous day,” Gunzburg said, as a sign language interpreter facilitated communication.
“President George Bush… brought forth a lot of changes for people who, up until that point, were sometimes thought of as second class citizens.”
Prior to the ADA, disabled people legally experienced discrimination in various areas such as transportation, employment, and telecommmunication services. The ADA aimed to remediate that inequity, providing disabled people with civil rights protections similar to those afforded on the basis of race, national origin, and religion.
Abilis is a non-profit organization which has serviced over 800 special needs individuals in Fairfield County for seventy years. At The Café, Abilis offers an employment program for adults with special needs, creating job experiences and an opportunity to contribute to the community.
On Monday, Montimurro highlighted Abilis’s dedication to the principles of the ADA.
“I’m very grateful to Abilis community members and leaders for ensuring equity, inclusion and opportunities,” she said.
Mr. Gunzburg said it was key to make Greenwich Library facilities accessible, and that with funding from federal and community partners, both the new theater and entrance to The Café were made accessible.
“Look how you can roll up on the stage instead of being rolled outside and in,” Gunzburg said.
Mr. Camillo recognized the town’s progress in becoming accessible and acknowledged it as an ongoing consideration.
“It’s an everyday obligation that when a building goes up or something is added, those of us who can get around see to it that those who have a harder time getting around enjoy those same rights,” he said.
Abilis is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which was founded in 1951. For more information on Abilis, visit abilis.us.