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North Dakota's Largest Minority: People with Disabilities

February 29, 2008

Bismarck, ND – The largest minority group in North Dakota is people with disabilities. With Disabilities Awareness Month beginning Saturday, Jim Moench with the North Dakota Disabilities Advocacy Consortium warns that protections laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act are being eroded.

Moench says Congress began debate a year ago on an update to the Act, which was signed in 1990. The new legislation, the ADA Restoration Act, is slowly gaining momentum, he adds.

"Our own Congressman (Earl) Pomeroy has become a sponsor of that legislation. So we're getting more and more support."

The Consortium says says the ADA Restoration Act is needed to restore civil rights protections which it says have been weakened by court decisions. The legislation would apply to both children and adults who have physical, mental, cognitive or developmental disabilities.

Moench points out that anyone, at any time, can become disabled.

"We're maybe only one false step off of a curb or one misstep on some stairs away from having a disability ourselves."

Every March is set aside as Disabilities Awareness Month.


Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ND