Thirty-one years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. The ADA was designed to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities – including in education, transportation, and employment. People first started noticing the effects of the law with physical changes – curb cuts, handicap ramps on busses, accessible buildings, etc. In the years since, much more has been done to promote inclusion.
The law has helped individuals with Williams syndrome gain access to places formerly difficult to enter, and it has helped our children strive for the most appropriate education placements (with many other corresponding educational laws).
As a parent with a child who was born before these laws went into effect, it is heartwarming to see how far we have come. Yet we all must continue to foster our goal of inclusion.
The Williams Syndrome Association upholds the following positions on inclusion. We believe that:
- everyone benefits when individuals with WS are meaningfully included in educational, work, and community settings.
- individuals with WS should receive all necessary supports and services to fully participate in their family lives, communities, and society as a whole.
- high expectations should be the norm, and that individuals with WS and their families should decide how they best learn, work, and enjoy social settings.
- “inclusion” is not one-size-fits-all, and will look different for each family based on each individual’s desires and needs.
- inclusion creates a sense of belonging in society, meaningful relationships, and opportunities to achieve dreams.
I look forward to even greater inclusion for individuals with Williams syndrome of all ages, in the future.