July 26 is the 28th anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Orioles will recognize ADA Day with a variety of events before and during their game against the Rays at Oriole Park.
The ADA, which was signed into law on July 26, 1990, is a civil rights measure that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all areas of public life. The law’s intent was to provide civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to the protections guaranteed for individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion by the Civil Rights Act.
As part of Celebrate ADA Day, the Orioles will host a pregame, on-field ceremony to recognize members of various groups who have been positively impacted by the implementation of the ADA, including the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, the Maryland Department of Disabilities, Centers for Independent Living, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, v-Link, the Special Olympics and several chapters of The Arc.
Laura Owens, president of TransCen in Rockville, Md., will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. TransCen is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving education and employment for youth with disabilities. Additionally, former major league outfielder Curtis Pride, who serves as Major League Baseball’s ambassador for inclusion, will catch Owens’ ceremonial first pitch. Pride, a Maryland native who was born deaf, played in 421 major league games across parts of 11 seasons. Singers from ArtStream, an organization that provides inclusive drama and social skills classes to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, will perform the national anthem. The ArtStream group will be accompanied by an American Sign Language interpreter.
The evening’s giveaway for all fans attending the game, a Retro Swinging Bird t-shirt, will be distributed by participants of the Challenger League, a regional baseball league with the mission of providing children with mental and physical challenges an opportunity to enjoy the experience of playing baseball. Additionally, representatives of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, which provides information, guidance and training on the ADA, will be at the OriolesREACH Community Booth near Gate D during the game.
As part of the Birdland Community Heroes program, the Orioles will recognize former director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, a TransCen, Inc. program, Marian Vessels as a Birdland Community Hero. Vessels attended the signing of the ADA on the White House lawn in 1990 and delivered the keynote address at the 25th anniversary of the ADA celebration in 2015. A frequent presenter at disability education and awareness events and conferences, Vessels also served on the committee that worked with Oriole Park at Camden Yards to establish accessible seating. The Orioles will make a $2,500 donation to TransCen, Inc. as part of the Birdland Community Heroes Program.
“The Orioles are honored to host Celebrate ADA Day on the 28th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This milestone event in American history has helped to expand opportunities for people with disabilities throughout the nation,” said Greg Bader, Orioles vice president of communications and marketing. “The Orioles are proud to recognize this historic event assuring civil rights for everyone with disabilities. We strive to create a ballpark experience that welcomes all fans, and our club will continue to expand upon the ways in which all individuals can enjoy the magic of Orioles Baseball at historic Camden Yards.”
The Orioles offer a variety of gameday services and amenities for fans with physical and intellectual disabilities. At each game, assistive listening devices are available at the Fan Assistance Centers behind home plate on the Lower Level Concourse and on the first floor of the Warehouse. Additionally, ballpark announcements are captioned on Oriole Park scoreboards; nearly 400 equal access seats are available throughout the ballpark, as well as ample on-site, accessible parking; and service animals are permitted into Oriole Park.