The Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Posted by The Arc of North Carolina

This July marks the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law was created to stop discrimination against people with disabilities. It protects them from being discriminated in employment, schools, transportation and all places open to the public. Simply put, it allows people with disabilities to live as others do

The ADA became a law on July 26, 1990 after being signed by President George H.W. Bush. It has five sections with guidance on employment, public services provided by state and local governments, public accommodations and services operated by private entities, telecommunications, and miscellaneous provisions.  

Additional rulings affecting people with disabilities soon followed, one of them being the Olmstead Act, which formally recognized that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination and holding that services must be provided in integrated, community-based settings when possible”.

The ADA is under attack. The House of Representatives created a bill, H.R. 620, entitled The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. One of the provisions of the bill would make it more difficult for someone with a disability to gain access to a business. Currently, the ADA gives three options to a person with a disability if there is an architectural barrier that prevents them from accessing a business: they can talk with the business owner, file a complaint with the Department of Justice, or file a lawsuit. The ADA Education and Reform Act would take away the right to go to court and have an immediate solution of timely remove of the barrier. By removing that provision, a person with a disability would be kept out of a public business for an indefinite amount of time. You can learn more about The ADA Education and Reform Act and how it will affect people with disabilities.

The ADA ensures that people with disabilities are treated fairly and allows them to live their life and have opportunities that most all of us take for granted. It’s critical that we protect this law and prevent it from being dismantled. Many families faced uphill battles trying to get services, while at the same time they were convincing schools and employers that their child had something to offer. People with disabilities have many talents and knowledge to share. Imagine if Stephen Hawking had been sent off and isolated because he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease.

So, what can you do to celebrate the ADA? Visit the ADA Anniversary website and learn how you can promote awareness and create events recognizing this important milestone.