Senator Antonio Celebrates ADA’s Anniversary

Pictured: State Senator Nickie J. Antonio with Cathy Zakowski and friends, Nina and Ashley.

July 26th marked the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on disability, both mental and physical. It also requires reasonable accommodations be provided to employees with disabilities and creates accessibility requirements for public places. This legislation continues to be an important step in creating a more equitable society and guaranteeing that every American can reach their fullest potential.

Since Covid-19, this goal has become more difficult to achieve, especially for our students with disabilities. I recently attended a Children’s Caucus webinar to learn more about Ohio’s plans to reopen schools, post-pandemic, and was particularly stunned to hear about the impacts Covid-19 has had on the academic success of students with behavioral and developmental disabilities. Due to the pandemic, behavioral support decreased exponentially and many of these students were unable to do the work alone. Families faced a difficult decision, determining whether to focus on their child’s academic or behavioral needs. As a former special education teacher and advocate for the disability community, we must identify ways to ensure our students with disabilities are not limited, pandemic or not.

Last year, I had the pleasure of launching Ohio’s first Developmental Disabilities Caucus to explore new and innovative ways to provide support and improve the quality of life for Ohioans living with disabilities. Through this bipartisan, bicameral initiative, we have been able to connect the Developmental Disabilities community with state legislators in the hopes of replicating programs across Ohio. One example being Ohio State University’s Nisonger Center which provides child, adolescent, and adult services to promote educational opportunities for all ages of the community.

People who make up the disability community are an important part of the fabric of our society and we as legislators should do everything we can to work together for shared goals.

Nickie Antonio

State Senator Nickie J. Antonio is honored to be serving in her first elected term in the Ohio Senate District 23, following 8 years of service in the Ohio House of Representatives, 13th House District with 5 of those years serving in leadership as Minority Whip. Antonio has also served as Lakewood City Councilmember, Executive Director of an outpatient drug/alcohol treatment program for women and teacher for children with special needs. Antonio serves as Highest Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Transportation and Joint Medicaid Oversight Committees. She also serves on the Finance Subcommittee on Health, and Ways and Means Committees. She is also a member of the Ohio House Democratic Women's Caucus—previously serving as chair—and is the State Director for the Women Legislators’ Lobby. She has been a dedicated champion of workers’ rights, high-quality education, our local governments, equal rights for women and the LGBT community, healthcare for all and fighting the opioid crisis. Antonio is recognized as a leader who reaches across the aisle to get things done. As a result, she has worked to pass legislation such as Ohio’s historic adoption open records law (SB 23/HB 61) and a step therapy reform law (SB 265/HB 72). During each of her four terms in office, Antonio has introduced the Ohio Fairness Act (now SB11), to provide civil rights protections for members of the LGBT community, as well as an end to Ohio’s use of the death penalty and an array of other bills focused on improving the lives of all Ohioans. Antonio continues to be an established expert in health policy in the General Assembly. The first in her family to graduate from college, she holds both MPA and B.S.Ed. Degrees from Cleveland State University and was named a CSU Distinguished Alumni in 2013. She is also an alumnus and Bohnett fellow of the Kennedy School Harvard Leadership Program (2011). Daughters Ariel and Stacey have made Antonio and wife Jean Kosmac, very proud as the girls engage in their adult life journeys.

Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 7:34 PM, 08.04.2020