I pondered the above for quite some time. Then I read Stephen Kuusisto's blog post "Disability at the 4th of July". Link: http://stephenkuusisto.com/2015/07/03/disability-at-the-4th-of-july/ Kuusisto recalled the many people with power that vigorously opposed the ADA. He wrote:
Yes, the ADA is now grown up. Her longevity is remarkable because boy oh boy, did she ever have some enemies, especially when she was just a kid. (Remember Clint Eastwood? How about Antonin Scalia?) Yes, there was a considerable cast of characters (who we can also call a person) who ardently wished to kill ADA in her cradle. I, for instance, have a great memory. I recall Tom Delay saying on the floor of the US Senate in 1990: “The cost to the nation and the economy is going to be dramatic. This goes way beyond the bounds of reason.” Or how about noisome blab from the National Review: “Under the guise of civil rights for the disabled, the Senate had passed a disaster for U.S. business.” ADA’s enemies proposed that euthanizing the child was really for the best. Notice the use of the phrase under the guise of civil rights, as though equal opportunity and civic life are, after all, really, just a fiction, or, to put it more succinctly, they’re a true story only for some. Perhaps the most vigorous opponent of ADA was (and remains) the Chamber of Commerce, which even today, bloviates that accessibility guidelines kill small businesses. (In order to believe this, its crucial to think that “the disabled” are insufficient customers, who live alone, who have no families and spouses and children who also shop.)
Kuusisto is too kind to those that opposed the ADA. Tom Delay was a bigot. Clint Eastwood, also a bigot, went on the make Million Dollar Baby, the most widely watched disability snuff film. I love the line above "ADA's enemies proposed euthanizing the child was really for the best". Today, with prenatal testing people with Down Syndrome and Spina Bifida are simply not born--no need for euthanasia; though we must try to pass assisted suicide legislation just in case we live too long and, gasp, acquire a disability. Simply put, the ADA did not destroy small or large businesses. The real trouble is indeed the Chamber of Commerce. It is my neighbor. It is your colleagues at work. It is the carpenter, tailor, sales person who helped you pick out an item clothing, your boss, a bus driver etc. The reason the ADA has failed culturally is simple and complex at the same time but shares one thing in common: ignorance, willing ignorance. Major Owens, a Democrat who served from 1987 to 2003 in the U.S. House of Representatives, noted:
There's a kind of sick security some people get out of keeping away from people with disabilities. They are running away from any situation that's not totally pure and all-American and that requires them to do any thinking.