The Connecticut Judicial
Branch and the 20th anniversary of the Americans with
morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, advocates and artists, and other
distinguished guests. On behalf of Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and
the Connecticut Judicial Branch, I would like to welcome you to the
Branch’s commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the signing of
the Americans with Disabilities Act.
honored to be here today to share a few words about the ADA, considered
by many to be the greatest piece of civil rights legislation for
Americans since the landmark 1964 Civil Rights act outlawed segregation
and discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity.
Americans with Disabilities Act was years in the making, thanks to the
tireless efforts of disability rights advocates like the late Justin W.
Dart Jr., who contracted polio in 1948 at the age of 18. Mr. Dart left
the hospital two years after his diagnosis and attended the University
of Houston, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in
political science and history with plans to be teacher. Yet, despite
his degrees, the University withheld his teaching certificate, because
Mr. Dart was a wheelchair user. Thankfully, that would not happen
today. Mr. Dart never gave up fighting for what he knew to be his right
as an American citizen, the right to life, liberty and pursuit of
happiness. Mr. Dart ultimately came to be known as the “Architect of
Mr. Dart at his side, when President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA
into law, he spoke about the “shameful wall of exclusion” that
had kept millions of Americans from enjoying their fundamental rights.
The wall of exclusion that left so many people behind, simply because
they had different abilities. Not inabilities, just
Interestingly enough, the ADA grants no special rights, and favors no
man or woman over another. The Americans with Disabilities Act simply
guarantees the inclusion of all people, regardless of their
physical or intellectual abilities. It requires equal access to
education and employment; to housing and transportation; to public
facilities such as courthouses, hospitals and libraries; to services
previously only available to the able-bodied; to museums, art galleries,
amusement parks, movie theaters, restaurants and beaches.
other words, the ADA ensures that people with disabilities have the same
opportunities as their non-disabled friends, family and neighbors. To
have access to all the possibilities that life has to
appropriate that today’s event is titled, “Possibilities.” The
artists whose works are featured here clearly have embraced the
possibilities that live within them, whether they are living with
cerebral palsy, or autism or Down’s Syndrome. The beauty in these
paintings — and they will be on display through September, so please,
feel free to tell your friends about the exhibit — demonstrates that
the human spirit knows no limits, and bows to no challenges.
Although a prior commitment has kept Chief Justice Rogers from today’s
commemoration, I can say on her behalf that access to justice is
a priority within the Judicial Branch. In 2007, shortly after her
swearing in, Chief Justice Rogers began a process to ensure that the
Branch develop a long-term blueprint for the future, by creating the
Public Service and Trust Commission. I was one of the 42 members of the
Commission, and in 2008 we proudly delivered to the Chief Justice a
Strategic Plan for the Branch.
was first among the five goals of that Strategic Plan, and the Access
goal is this: The Judicial Branch will provide equal access to
all of its facilities, processes and information through the
identification and elimination of barriers.
the two years since the Strategic Plan’s creation, there can be little
doubt that the Branch is meeting its obligation to maintain compliance
with the ADA by assuring ACCESS and by providing a litany of services
and accommodations to people of varying abilities. Chief Justice Rogers
approved more than a dozen of the recommendations made by the Plan’s ADA
Committee to improve access for people of differing abilities. For
There are now ADA Coordinators in every Branch courthouse and
facility who each year provide assistance to hundreds of court users,
including jurors and parties to cases, with everything from sign
language services to assistive listening devices and CART, or Real Time
A page on the Branch website is now dedicated to providing clear and
concise information about the ADA, including links to Branch ADA
coordinators, lists of auxiliary aids, directions and photographs of
wheelchair accessible entrances at our courthouses and other Branch
facilities, information about other services we can provide.
This year we took the simple step of installing magnifying glasses
for people with limited vision to use in each of our clerks’
offices, Court Service Centers, Public Information Desks, and Law
To help ensure that people with hearing or language impairments can
access our phone services more easily, the Branch has adopted the
national free 7-1-1 telephone relay service.
Currently the Branch, with the assistance of the New England Assistive
Technology Center at Oak Hill, is piloting the use of Microsoft
Accessibility features on public-use computers in Court Service Centers
at 90 Washington Street in Hartford and in New Britain Superior Court.
The technology helps users with limited vision and those with mobility
issues to easily navigate the internet.
Of course providing accommodations to people with disabilities is only
one piece of the Branch’s commitment to the Americans with Disabilities
Act. At the request of our Strategic Plan focus group participants,
we’re also now providing disability awareness training to our staff,
beginning with our judicial marshals.
One more note: The Chief Justice this spring formed an Access to
Facilities Committee, composed of 15 Judicial Branch staff members.
This Committee has begun its work of assessing the vast array of signage
in our 78 facilities, and to make recommendations to address and
eliminate any barriers that may impede entry to and movement within
These are just a few examples of the Judicial Branch’s commitment to
the Americans with Disabilities Act and to ensuring access to justice
for all people. To commemorate the passage of the landmark act, Chief
Justice Rogers has asked me to present this proclamation that she has
signed on behalf of all of the judges and staff of the Judicial
Branch. It reads:
Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
A Proclamation of
Recommitment to Maintain Compliance with the ADA
26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure the civil rights of people with
disabilities. This legislation established a clear and comprehensive
national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against
individuals with disabilities.
has expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing
barriers and changing perceptions, increasing full participation in
community life. However, the full promise of the ADA will only be
reached if public entities remain committed in their efforts to fully
implement the ADA.
20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we, the State
of Connecticut Judicial Branch, celebrate and recognize the progress
that has been made by reaffirming the principals of equality and
inclusion and recommitting our efforts to maintain full ADA compliance.
THEREFORE, I, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers, on behalf of the
Connecticut Judicial Branch, do hereby reaffirm our commitment to
maintain full ADA compliance in the Connecticut Judicial Branch on
this, the 26th day of July, 2010.
Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers
You know, one of the wonderful things about having a job
such as mine, is the fact that you have access to several very talented
individuals who assist you in the preparation of comments for events
such as this. In the preparation of these comments today, I was very
ably assisted by such an individual. When she delivered this speech to
me she noted that she hoped that it wasn’t too “passionate” but she told
me that as the sister of a man who was quadriplegic for 20 years, she
had deep feelings about the ADA and the hope it gives to people of
differing abilities. So join me in recognizing and thanking Heather
Collins for her work on these comments today and for her passion for the
ADA and for her love for her brother!
In closing, I would again
like to thank you all for being here and I’d I’d like to especially
thank every artist who has made today’s celebration so special. With
equality, the “Possibilities” are, indeed, endless.