Justin Dart, American Hero

from DJ Savarese's eighth grade term paper

How great it is to know that the person most responsible for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act—Justin Dart—was himself disabled, but how he changed the world and who he was is not known by the average person…. His life story is very honorable. Rather than pity himself, Dart hoped to change the lives of millions by hearing the concerns of his fellow disabled humans, politically fighting for equality, and organizing them into a powerful, united group.

His accomplishments are too numerous to freshly detail. …but he made history by plotting to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. Dart coauthored the 1988 version of the ADA; however, he worried that the bill would encourage segregation rather than inclusion, so at an ADAPT march he publicly likened the disability movement to the civil rights movement of the 60s, declaring, “We are Americans and we will struggle for however long it takes for the same civil rights other Americans have.” Advocating for the rights of all Americans, Dart greatly admired the 1990 version which he termed the “empowerment version” compared to the 1988 “regulation version.” It freed very many people, and no one deserved the pen used by President Bush to sign the ADA into law more than the man who received it: Justin Dart. How many lives he had changed! The law was signed on July 26, 1990, but Dart’s fight to ensure implementation of the law continued until his death in 2002. During that time, he traveled to all fifty states more than four times each, defending the rights of people under the law….

Dart lost his life to congestive heart failure on June 21, 2002, but his fight continued. He even insisted that his funeral be a celebration of the movement and not of him. He heard the hurtful stories of his people and just look how he changed their future! Dart gave his people the respect they deserved and tried to ensure their rights by building a unified community and creating national legislation. Years of hope have been accomplished! Respect has been established. You heard the words of Justin Dart. Our lives deserve to be full and meaningful.