MCLEAN, Va. -- "It was the fair and right thing to do." That's what President George H.W. Bush said about signing the American with Disabilities Act. That piece of legislation was a defining moment of his presidency and continues to make lives better.
Eights months after the Berlin Wall came down, President George H.W. Bush brought down more walls with he signed the Americans with Disabilities ACT in 1990.
"I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down. God bless you all," said the president in his signing speech.
That law opened doors for people with disabilities like a group watching president Bush's funeral at day program in McLean, Va.
"He signed that law for people like myself," said Maureen Shields.
She and Katherine Montgomery both have disabilities and use wheel chairs. The law President Bush signed has made it so much easier for them to get around, and live independently.
"He was bold in doing so because a lot politicians and presidents in the past, haven't had the where-with-all to do so...He was the one that decided do it. And so it's wonderful because I don't think I would be able to live in my apartment with a roommate, and an accessible one at that," said Katherine.
Katherine is on the Board of SPARC, Specially Adapted Resource Clubs, which provides day programs around Northern Virginia for people with disabilities, founded by Donna Goldbranson. Her daughter has a disability and also uses a wheelchair.
"My daughter was born in 1991, and my daughter is in a wheelchair and I'm so very grateful, There are still some struggles, but curb cutouts, covered bus stops and Metro Access. And all these things that allow people to be fully included in the community."
The ADA not only mandates accessibility, but it prohibits discrimination. Some people refer to it as the Declaration of Independence for people with disabilities.
The ADA bars discrimination against Americans with disabilities in jobs, schools, transportation and all public and privately-owned places that are open to the general public.
Back in July of 1990, President Bush said, "We will not accept, we will not excuse, we will not tolerate discrimination in America."
The ADA has been adjusted by both President Clinton and Obama. Today, the focus is workplace challenges for people who cannot use computers without assistance.