APD > 30th Anniversary of the ADA


Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with Us!

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Friday, July 24, 2020

9 a.m. (EDT)  Stroll in Support of the ADA

  • Walk around your block with friends or family using appropriate social distancing to show your support of the ADA!
  • Post your photos on social media using #ADA30FL

11 a.m. (EDT) Online ADA Anniversary Celebration (Must Pre-Register Here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7378323763098407949)

  • Keynote Speakers: 
    • Whitney Harris, Comptroller for FAAST, Inc.
    • Shevie Barnes, Ms. Wheelchair Florida (2018) and Founder of Rising Against Disabilities & Discrimination (RADD)
    • Peter O’Connell, CEO at the Center for Independent Living of South Florida (CILSF) 
  • Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, County Commission Chair Brian Desloge, and other community leaders will also give remarks.
  • Webinar seats are limited, so please register early. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to join the event. 

For more information about the event, please email APD Communications Director Melanie Mowry Etters, APR, CPRC at melanie.etters@apdcares.org.


About the Keynote Speakers

Whitney Harris is the Comptroller for the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST), Inc. In her position, Whitney is responsible for the financial health of the organization and performs fiscal duties such as creating the annual budget, maintaining detailed financial records, and managing the nonprofit’s payroll process. Whitney is a member of the organization’s Executive Leadership Team and has assisted the organization in applying for new grants, developing staff training events, and supporting the Board of Directors and Assistive Technology Advisory Council.

Whitney is passionate about creating a reality in which all people are equal and have equal access. Her disability advocacy work started in 2008 when she joined the Florida Youth Council and became a volunteer at the Florida Youth Leadership Forum. Being inspired by others who have disabilities has led her to become an active member of the Board of Directors for three national organizations: the Association of Youth Leadership Forums, the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Whitney’s leadership and involvement with these organizations have provided an opportunity to experience examples of best practices to bring to Florida. At the state level, Whitney is a long-time volunteer with the Florida Youth Leadership Forum and Treasurer of the gubernatorially appointed Florida Independent Living Council. Whitney has a Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics from St. Petersburg College and is currently attending the University of Central Florida to obtain her Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management.

Shavaughn Barnes is more commonly known as Shevie (pronounced "Chevy") due to her always being on wheels. In 2018, she represented Florida in the Ms. Wheelchair America program, where she received the best speech award and was the third place winner. Her work with those with disabilities is a personal choice because she was born with cerebral palsy. Those who know her would describe her as headstrong, candid, and patient. She strives to make each day better than the last. She has been involved with groups such as Youth Leadership Forum and Florida Youth Council, and is the Outreach Director for Ms. Wheelchair America. She credits these organizations with helping her remain current and fighting for change.

Her lifetime goal is to use her own nonprofit group, Rising Against Disabilities & Discrimination (or RADDinc), to make the wheel of life better together. She hopes to use RADD to build her own school and always put a smile on the faces of those around her. She hopes that everyone who interacts with her will remember one simple thing: “We can only change the world together.”

Peter O’Connell is the CEO at the Center for Independent Living of South Florida (CILSF), where he leads a passionate team focused on improving the independence for persons with disabilities. 

Peter has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, in Political Science with a minor in Disability Studies, an MBA from San Francisco State University, over 15 years of professional experience plus a lifetime of personal experience working as an advocate for persons with disabilities, and has received numerous awards highlighting his work in the field. His passions are taking the efficiencies and outcome-based measures of the private sector and marrying them with the mission-driven objectives of the nonprofit sector and getting the best results from both.

Peter looks forward to any sunny day that can be spent outside with his family, and he is grateful to have so many in Miami. On the rare day that the sun is hidden behind a cloud or his wife and son are having their own adventures, Peter, as an avid card player, is happy to seek out others and settle into a game whenever possible. To find out more about Peter or the Center, please visit https://www.cilsf.org/

A Message from APD Director Barbara Palmer: 'Milestones Made in 30 Years'

The Americans with Disabilities Act, referred to as the ADA, has made a tremendous impact on the landscape of America. President George H. W. Bush signed this landmark legislation 30 years ago—July 26, 1990. The ADA is an important civil rights measure that allows people with disabilities to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as those without disabilities.

Today, it is natural to see people with disabilities in the workforce, out shopping, in schools, and being a part of their neighborhoods. This is exactly what the ADA was meant to accomplish—providing the chance for all people to reach their personal goals. This legislation has made a huge difference in the lives of millions of Floridians, guaranteeing them the right to be free of discrimination in seeking an education, a job, housing, and access to buildings.

The acceptance of people with all abilities has taken several decades to become the accepted norm in America. However, there are still opportunities to do more. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities has more than 55,000 customers with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are living in their local communities, which is wonderful.  However, only about 2,800 of those individuals are working, with many more looking for the opportunity to go to work. Employment is a focus of many disability organizations that are working hard to improve those numbers.

To celebrate how far we have come thanks to the ADA, APD and our partners in the disability community are planning two activities on Friday, July 24, to celebrate the anniversary of this important legislation. Some of the organizations participating are: Ability 1st, Blind Services, Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, The Able Trust, ABLE United, City of Tallahassee, Leon County, Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, Vocational Rehabilitation, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, and many others.

We will begin the day on July 24 at 9 a.m. (EDT) with a Stroll in Support of the ADA where we are asking every citizen in Florida that supports the Americans with Disabilities Act to go outside and take a stroll around their block using appropriate social distancing. It will accomplish several things by getting people active while also staying safe from large crowds. Several disability organizations will walk in small groups around the Florida Capitol beginning at 9 a.m. exercising social distancing while they stroll.

Beginning at 11 a.m., an online celebration of the ADA will be held. Keynote speakers include self-advocate Whitney Harris, Miss Wheelchair 2018 Shevie Barnes, and the Executive Director of the Center for Independent Living of South Florida Peter O’Connell. You must register to take part in the online event at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7378323763098407949. Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, County Commission Chairman Brian Desloge, and other community leaders will also give remarks.

We invite the public to take a stroll with us in our beautiful Capital City and all around the state on July 24 to show support for the ADA and all that it has accomplished. We hope you will celebrate the ADA’s 30 years of success!