The Road To Freedom

Keeping the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act
A Project of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights The Road To Freedom: Keeping the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an ongoing, cross-country bus tour and traveling exhibit promoting the civil rights of people with disabilities and the history of the disability rights movement. The Road To Freedom is a project of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR), an alliance of hundreds of national, state and local disability, civil rights and social justice organizations founded by disability rights advocate, Jim Ward. Road To Freedom major sponsors include AARP and the Open Society Institute. Other founding was provided by IndependenceFirst, AOL, Dircks & Associates, Browser Media, Arizona Bridge to Independent Living, Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, Democracy In Action, National Disability Rights Network, Bruce Hornsby, and Sweet Honey In the Rock. The primary focus of the tour is to create a deeper understanding of disability as a civil rights issue and to counter the frequent media coverage of disability in the context of charity, sympathy or pity. The tour is promoting the strengthening of worker rights and protections by advancing support for the ADA Restoration Act. This legislation will restore the vital civil rights protections under the ADA that have been weakened in the courts in recent years. With Yoshiko Dart, widow of the late disability rights leader Justin Dart, Jr., onboard for the first leg of the journey, the Road To Freedom bus tour launched from Washington on November 15th of 2006 and has traveled to all 50 states, driving more than 30,000 miles to more than 100 bus stop events. Road To Freedom events have included Members of Congress, governors, mayors and other policymakers at sites such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Civil Rights Museum, Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site, as well as statehouses, city halls, museums, churches, colleges, and schools throughout the country. The tour has received extensive state and local media attention especially, due to the visual nature of the tour, on TV. The tour generated more media attention for the ADA Restoration Act than any other single disability or civil rights org

The mobile exhibit includes a multimedia presentation of the grassroots “people’s movement” central to the passage of the ADA in 1990. The exhibit features the provocative work of documentary photographer Tom Olin whose photographs have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute. These images includes historic acts of civil disobedience such as early disability rights advocates laying down in front of inaccessible transit buses and cutting curb cuts with hammers and chisels when city governments failed to provide accessible options.
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More information is available at Tour media coverage is available at Tour photographs are at Extensive list of media coverage follows this sample:

By KIM HOYUM MARQUETTE - A national bus tour promoting the Americans with Disabilities Act got plenty of support Tuesday when it stopped at the Marquette Commons. “Is the ADA about charity?” asked Jim Ward, president of ADA Watch and the National Coalition of Disability Rights. “No!” shouted back a crowd of more than 100 Upper Peninsula residents. “Is the ADA about pity?” “No!” “Is the ADA about sympathy?” “No!” Ward has been traveling the country with his family, road crew and camera since November on the Road to Freedom bus, a disability rights tour designed to celebrate the 1990 ADA and raise awareness of issues that still need to be addressed. His message is simple: this is a civil rights act, not charity or a bureaucratic mandate. “People aren’t familiar with the idea of people with disabilities active in civil rights and having a history of even participating in acts of civil disobedience,” Ward said. “Hopefully, people can come to understand the people’s movement that got the ADA passed and that despite the hard work that went into it, it’s being rolled back in the courts.” Superior Alliance for Independent Living Executive Director Amy Maes, who worked to bring the bus tour to Marquette, said in the years since the ADA was approved, judges have begun to interpret it more narrowly than it was intended. “This is kind of to remind folks what the original intent was when they wrote it,” she said. The non-profit SAIL’s purpose is to advocate for people with disabilities across the U.P., Maes said,

and she sees one issue constantly. “Our big concern is employment,” Maes said. “It’s just one area that there is still a lot of stigmatism. … Probably the most litigated part of the ADA is the employment section.” Supreme Court employment decisions since 1999 that narrowed the scope of the ADA are part of the concern for Road to Freedom, and the reason why Ward is encouraging residents to support the passage of the ADA Restoration Act. The restoration act was proposed in 2004 by the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency, to more broadly protect people with disabilities from discrimination. “You’ll hear from many business groups that the ADA is an imposition by bureaucrats. But it’s really a response to a grassroots effort,” Ward said. The roots were in evidence Tuesday, as people with disabilities and family members brought signs welcoming the bus tour and voiced support for Ward, Maes and other speakers. Ward filmed some of the event as well, as he has on the rest of the tour, and plans to produce a documentary when the tour ends in November. “We’d like to say to the rest of America, ‘get on the bus,’ ” he told the crowd. More information on the tour and the ADA can be found at

Sample Media Coverage:
Road To Freedom Tour Television Clip Video with Governor Bebe televised on THTV in Little Rock, Arkansas On the Road for the ADA The Nashville Tennessean – Nashville, TN – Nov 1, 2007 The cross-country Road to Freedom tour stopped in Nashville on Wednesday to pitch the importance of preserving the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Mayor Karl Dean and Councilman Darren Jernigan were there to talk about the cause. Exhibit Highlights Disability Rights The Charlestown Gazette – Charlestown, WV - Oct 30, 2007 The bus tour includes a multimedia display about the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act and photographs from Tom Olin, whose work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C… Everybody Counts on the Freedom Bus The Post Tribune - Merrillville, IN - Oct 26, 2007 Ward and his family have been touring the country for the past year in their “Road to Freedom” bus. They have stopped at 65 events in 44 states, spreading both the victories and obstacles of the ADA through a display shot by photographer Tom Olin… Bus on Journey for Disability Rights The Republican - Amherst, MA - Oct 19, 2007

James Ward, president of the National Coalition for Disability Rights, has been traveling around the country in his red, white and blue bus since November with his wife and two children to teach people about the Americans with Disabilities Act and to listen to stories about how the act is failing to protect those who need it… Campaign To Toughen ADA Visits Amherst, Massachusetts Amherst Radio WAMC, MA - Oct 19, 2007 A national campaign to strengthen the Americans with Disabilities Act , called The Road to Freedom, rolled into the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts this afternoon… WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports….. New Haven: Youth Advocates and the Freedom Bus New Haven Register, Conn - Oct 15, 2007 A traveling “freedom tour” landed on the New Haven Green Sunday, and dozens of Connecticut disabilities rights advocates spent the day spreading the message that 17 years later, the ADA is threatened. And particularly threatened by some court decisions by judges who opted to narrowly interpret the law… Bangor: Adaptive Fair aims to engage people with disabilities Bangor Daily News, ME - Sep 21, 2007 The Road to Freedom is planning to bring its 37-foot bus to the event to raise awareness about the Americans with Disabilities Act... Group Seeks to Redefine Act Troy Record, NY – Aug 21, 2007 A red, white and blue bus carrying a group of advocates in favor of redefining the meaning of the word "disabled" rolled into downtown Wednesday afternoon for a press conference. "We're calling on Americans to pass the ADA Restoration Act of 2007," said Jim Ward, founder and president of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) based in Washington, D.C… Event Highlights Rights of People with Disabilities Albany Times Union, NY – Sept 4, 2007 A yearlong bus tour promoting rights for people with disabilities will make a stop in Troy on Wednesday. The event, Road to Freedom, will feature a multimedia display and history exhibit highlighting the disability rights struggle and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act… Mobile Unit Displays Struggles of the People with Disabilities Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, NY – Sept 4, 2007 A mobile display chronicling the struggles of disabled people and the Americans with Disabilities Act rolled into Rochester today. Visitors to the Center for Disability Rights on State Street were also encouraged to sign a petition to have Congress pass the ADA Restoration Act, which would include more people for ADA coverage…

ND tops US for working disabled In-Forum, ND – Aug 21, 2007 Ward came to Bismarck on Monday with his “Road to Freedom Bus Tour” as part of the state consortium’s conference. “Ultimately, it’s not about disability... Advocacy group marks patients' graves Mankato Free Press - Mankato, MN, USA – Aug 19, 2007 Remembering with Dignity, together with the Americans with Disabilities Act Road to Freedom tour, held a ceremony Saturday to honor the placement of... Senator Tom Harkin Calls for ADA Restoration on the Road To Freedom National Bus Tour - USA I am working to restore Congress' original intent, and, once again, to ensure that all Americans with disabilities are protected from discrimination... National ADA tour hits UP Marquette Mining Journal, MI - Aug 15, 2007 A national bus tour promoting the Americans with Disabilities Act got plenty of support Tuesday when it... ADA bus tour keeps focus on disability rights Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, IA - Aug 11, 2007 Jim Ward has been touring the country in a red, white and blue recreational vehicle with his wife and two... Tour touts Americans With Disabilities Act Radio Iowa, IA - Aug 10, 2007 A nationwide bus tour touting the "Americans With Disabilities Act" is visiting Iowa. During a stop in downtown Des Moines, Jim Ward... National Council on Disability Monthly Bulletin for August, 2007 TechWeb - Aug 10, 2007 After Mr. Quinn's presentation, Ms. Bristo introduced Jim Ward of ADA Watch, who discussed their national ADA bus tour, Road To Freedom: Keeping the Promise... Freedom Bus and Reggy to highlight ADA Night at the Stadium OurSports Central, WI - Aug 8, 2007 The Americans with Disabilities Act will be celebrating its 17th anniversary in conjunction with the Road to Freedom National Bus Tour. ... Tour emphasizes value of ADA to make stop at University of Wisconsin-

Superior Ironwood Daily Globe, MI - Aug 6, 2007 Frank Boyle, D-Superior, joining Jim Ward, founder and president of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights based in Washington… Stop by Road to Freedom bus likens disability, civil rights Topeka Capital Journal, KS - Aug 2, 2007 Jim Ward, president of Americans with Disabilities Act Watch, talks about disability rights Wednesday at the Brown historic site... Tour Tells Story of Disability Rights Movement, Seeks To Restore ADA The Greeley Tribune, CO – June 11, 2007 Vicki Baker, who was left a paraplegic after a car crash five years ago, couldn't imagine life without the services that were spurred by the Americans with Disabilities Act… Disability Rights Tour Hits Fresno Fresno Bee, CA – April 14, 2007 In the mid-1990s, Jim Ward hit bottom when he was diagnosed with a psychiatric disability… Head of Disability Rights Group Says Courts Threaten ADA WMC-TV, TN – February 13, 2007 The head of a disability rights group said today that he was concerned about courts weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law 17 years ago. Road To Freedom Tour at Clinton Presidential Library THV-TV, AK – February 12, 2007 A disability rights group, concerned about courts weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), brought their cross-country tour to Little Rock Monday… Disability Rights Bus Travels Across Nation Epoch Times – February 12, 2007 Advocates for Americans with disabilities plan to visit 80 cities this year. "The Road to Freedom" bus tour, which has already traveled… On the Bus for Disability Rights Diversity, Inc. – February 8, 2007 After being appointed by former President Reagan to be the vice chair of the National Council on Disability, Justin Dart Jr. took his wife along with him on a crosscountry adventure in the name of equal rights. Buses continue to roll across state lines in an effort to speak to America about the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the disability-rights movement. Known as the Road To Freedom,

the national awareness campaign, is a year-long tour from Washington, D.C., mobilizing Americans to keep the ADA's protections and rights… Podcast: The Road To Freedom Bus Tour Disability Nation – February 4, 2007 DN22 features an interview with Jim Ward of ADA Watch. Jim and others are on a year-long, nationwide tour called The Road to Freedom. The Road To Freedom is a national awareness campaign inspired by the historic journey of Justin and Yoshiko Dart to mobilize support for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)… Photo Gallery: Road To Freedom Exhibit Montgomery Advertiser, AL – January 9, 2007 Jim Harris, assistant commissioner of the Department of Rehabilitation Services, left, and Scott Renner, executive director of the Montgomery Center for Independent Living, look at The Road to Freedom exhibit… Road To Freedom Begins its Journey to Disability Rights – February, 2007 The Road to Freedom is a national awareness campaign inspired by the historic journey of Justin and Yoshiko Dart to mobilize support for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)…