Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) —a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability — was passed in 1990.
Since then, it and other programs have provided support for many people with disabilities. One of them is Bryan Dooley, who has cerebral palsy.
Dooley grew up going to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. After participating in the pre-kindergarten program at The Children’s Center, Dooley went on to Bolton Elementary and Meadowlark Middle before going to Reagan High School. After graduating from there in 2009, he went to Guilford College, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2013.
“As it happens, I was very fortunate,” Dooley said.
“I started going to school in the early ’90s when the ADA was first enacted. At that time, there was a lot of funding and a lot of other supports that came with the funding. Overall, I had a very supportive experience with WS/FCS.”
“I attribute doing so well in our public school system and college due to the passing of the ADA. It’s still important today, although there is much more work to do, especially in the realm of employment, which is one of the main goals.”
Aretha Jones-Moultrie, who works for the school system’s Exceptional Children’s Division in Support & Secondary Transition, serves on the Winston-Salem Mayor’s Council for Persons with Disabilities.
On July 28, the council and other local organizations will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA with such events as a Parade Drive-By and, a drive-in movie at the Carolina Classic Fairgrounds. The movie will be “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” which features a young man with Down syndrome.
More activities will be announced in coming days, Jones-Moultrie said.
When someone with disabilities is a student in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system, people from the Exceptional Children’s (EC) Division work with them, and students receive support through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures that students with a disability are provided with free appropriate public education.
Dooley appreciated the support he received from the school system.
“People with special needs have so many unique challenges, based on each individual’s disability,” he said.
“It’s important to shape whatever support the individual needs to fit and assist in the best way possible. In my case, I had a one-on-one assistant provided by the school system. Later on, I accrued a lot of various assistive technologies, some of which I received through school.”
Jones-Moultrie said that support for EC students includes helping them get ready for the next step in life.
“We feel so strongly about continuing to help our students transition to adult life,” she said.
“As a special educator, ADA is significant to me because it allows for a smoother transition from public school.”
“When students with disabilities graduate from high school, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) expires. It is of great comfort to know that ADA law guarantees civil rights to our former students throughout adulthood. It offers protection in all facets of life such as: transportation, independent living, college, employment with companies, inclusion of events/organizations, and within the general public.”
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In 2017, Dooley visited with students at Old Richmond Elementary. When students are able to go back to schools, he would be happy to accept invitations from other schools.
“Yes, once all COVID-19 safety protocols are in place, I am completely open to visiting more schools,” he said.
Dooley, whose 30th birthday is coming up, is quite active.
He writes a personal blog called “Observations from Below.”