ADA Anniversary Honored with Historic First

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U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Rep. Jim Langevin in 2009

REUTERS/Larry Downing

Back in 2000, Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin became the first quadriplegic individual to be elected to the House. On Monday, Langevin honored the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act by presiding over the House for the first time.

The AP reports that Langevin, who is paralyzed from the chest down, used a unique mechanical lift to make the event possible. The 46-year-old Rhode-Island representative has been handicapped since being injured in a shooting accident when he was 16 years old.

The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990 was a paramount moment in prohibiting workplace discrimination against disabled individuals. Three decades after sustaining his injury, and a decade after his election to Congress, Langevin hopes that moments like this will inspire others to conquer the same roadblocks.

“I know the inspiration I took from other people and how they overcame their challenges,” he told the AP.