A former senator instrumental in writing and passing the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act will speak at UF today.

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will be in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom at 6:30 p.m. in honor of the act’s 25th anniversary, said Kevin Baron, a graduate assistant at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.


"Getting a caliber speaker like this is a unique experience that students don’t often get," Baron said.

The Graham Center and the Common Reading Program at the Dean of Students Office are hosting the event, which is free and open to the public. He is not being paid, but his travel expenses will be covered, said Shelby Taylor, the digital and communications director of the Graham Center.

Baron said the host organizations expect Harkin to discuss the history of the legislation and any resulting debates, as well as issues people with disabilities face every day.

Jim Gorske, the director of the UF Disability Resource Center, said the senator will attend a reception before speaking and take a tour of Cypress Hall.

"It’s a great opportunity to reflect on where services and support and access has come for students with disabilities since the legislation was enacted," he said.

Tyler Richards, the director of internal events for Gators For All Abilities, will be attending the event and said he is interested in getting advice on passing disabilities legislature.

"I’ve always been interested in working with people and speaking out for people who can’t speak out for themselves," the 19-year-old UF industrial and systems engineering sophomore said. READ MORE