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This weekend, the nation celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed on July 26, 1990, the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantees equal access to employment and public services, which includes state-funded universities. The UW, however, started working toward this equality long before 1990. The McBurney Disability Resource Center opened on campus in 1977 with a mission to “lead the campus forward in access for students with disabilities.” It’s named for Floyd “Mike” McBurney ’60, LLB’63, a born-and-bred Madisonian. And like McBurney the center, McBurney the person was also incredible. At age 16, McBurney experienced a cervical spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia. He went on to earn two degrees from the UW and was later elected as Dane County District Attorney in 1966. McBurney’s tenure was tragically cut short by his death in 1967. But his name and legacy live on, thanks to his lifelong friend, renowned professor James Graaskamp PhD’65 . Graaskamp pitched the idea of a formalized center in McBurney’s name to McBurney’s surviving family, and working with the dean of students, made it happen in 1977. Today, the McBurney Center helps make campus more accessible and equitable for more than 2,600 Badgers. The Associated Students of Madison celebrated the 30th anniversary of the ADA earlier this year; learn more about disability history at the UW with this presentation by the ADA30 Student Coalition.

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