The Road To Freedom Bus Tour

Keeping the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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The Tour

Case Study

Grassroots Organizing:

ADA Watch/CDRJ work to AMPLIFY the voices of the U.S. disability rights movement.
Promoting disability rights as fundamental civil and human rights, our brightly branded red, white and blue Road To Freedom bus has traveled to every state in the continental United States. Combining mobile cause marketing with media outreach, concerts, petitions and voter registration drives, the tour features a multimedia history exhibit of the disability rights movement.
Read how we AMPLIFIED voices of the disability rights movement

Recognizing the power of local constituents to influence programs and policies at the national level, ADA Watch/CDRJ packed up, left Washington, DC, and hit the road on the Road To Freedom bus. Mobilizing the grassroots and promoting disability rights as fundamental civil and human rights, the Road To Freedom bus, exhibit and staff have ventured to every state in the continental U.S., also flying our staff and exhibits to Alaska and Hawaii.

The tour kicked off with our Disability Rights benefit concert which included Grammy Award-winning artists, policymakers including U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, and disability rights leaders including the late Judy Heumann. The event was produced in partnership with Comcast, which filmed and televised the concert in the National Capitol Region. Comcast’s “Red Carpet” video of the Disability Rights Concert can be viewed here.

Our Road To Freedom tour includes a multimedia history exhibit of the U.S. disability rights movement featuring the iconic photos of Tom Olin, whose work has been featured at the Smithsonian, and written narrative by Arlene Mayerson. Tom Olin joined Jim Ward and his family, as they lived on the road for more than 18-months. Tom also kept the bus rolling as part of the ADA Legacy Project.

The mission of the Road To Freedom bus tour is to bring mainstream attention to what it means to be living with a disability in America today and to the ongoing struggle for equal access to healthcare, transportation, education, employment and more. We work to inform and inspire America about the compelling history of the disability rights movement and what remains to be accomplished to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Promise

By signing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), America promised to protect the rights of people with disabilities; we promised to give people with disabilities full access to the American Dream; we promised to help people with disabilities shed the stereotype as America’s “forgotten population.”

But America has not yet delivered on the full potential and promise of the ADA.

The evidence of a dream delayed can be found in the steady unemployment rates of people with disabilities able and willing to work and the disproportionately high rate of poverty among people with disabilities.

Most people remain unaware of the compelling history of disability rights in America.

Even fewer may be aware that – following a string of setbacks in the Courts – people with physical, mental, cognitive and developmental disabilities, along with family members, advocates and policymakers, are having to reclaim the civil rights protections once thought secure under the greatest accomplishment of the disability rights struggle: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA Amendments Act was passed to restore the vital protections for Americans with all types of disabilities, as well as those perceived as having disabilities.


Our tour stops feature personal testimonials; a display of the disability “civil rights movement” in America featuring narrative, photographs and artifacts; two highly visible and brightly wrapped buses; and a team of experienced disability community leaders – as well as photojournalist, Tom Olin, whose images are central to our exhibit and whose work has been featured at the Smithsonian.

Like all of ADA Watch/CDRJ’s programs and activities, the Road To Freedom tour is produced in partnership with our diverse coalition of leaders and organizations representing the disability, civil rights and social justice communities.