The 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is just around the corner and who better to comment on this landmark legislation that one of its architects? His name is Lex Frieden and he a professor with the School of Biomedical Informatics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The Americans with Disabilities Act that President George H. W. Bush signed into law on July 26, 1990 contained language written by Frieden. Back then, few public places had the ramps that wheelchair users need to enter a building. Many buses weren’t equipped with wheelchair lifts, either. Losing the use of his legs in a traffic mishap while in college, Frieden has devoted his life to helping the estimated 53 million people in the U.S. with a disability live independently.
Americans with Disabilities Act
“The Americans with Disabilities Act has improved the quality of life for millions of people with disabilities and is considered by many to be their ‘Declaration of Independence,’” Frieden said. “The challenges now include accommodating the 76 million Baby Boomers who are rapidly becoming disabled as a result of the natural effects of aging. Soon, thousands of people will face the specter of moving into nursing homes simply because we do not have a comprehensive system of providing affordable in-home attendant services.”
Independent Living Advocate
Frieden also directs the Independent Living Research Utilization Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann, a research, training and technical assistance program on independent living for people with disabilities and seniors. A graduate of Tulsa University, Frieden has been honored as a Distinguished Alumnus. He also holds a master's degree in social psychology from the University of Houston. He has received two Presidential Citations for his work in the field of disability, and in 2017 was awarded the Fries Prize for Human Improvement from the CDC Foundation.