D&C Democrat Chronicle
by Gerard Buckley
June 5, 2015
In the span of less than two months this summer, we will celebrate the anniversaries of two major milestones that have changed the lives of millions of Americans, including my own.
The first of these anniversaries is June 8 — the 50 th anniversary of the signing of Public Law 89-36 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. PL 89-36 is also known as the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Act, and for the first time in our nation’s history, it established a technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, more commonly known now as STEM.
Since its establishment, NTID and its host institution, Rochester Institute of Technology, have graduated more than 7,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and I’m proud to be one of them. I’m prouder still to now lead the college as we continue to help students earn degrees and hit the ground running in scientific, technical and professional careers.
Twenty-five years after PL 89-36 was enacted, I, by then an RIT/NTID alumnus, was fortunate to be invited by Sen. Robert Dole to witness the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA has provided still more opportunities for equal access to Americans of all abilities. As President Bush said in his remarks that day, “With today’s signing … every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom.”