Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The passing of this law demonstrated the nation’s dedication to ending discrimination against people with disabilities.
President Obama spoke Monday to mark the special occasion, commenting on the successes of the ADA to-date and also relaying a personal story about challenges his father-in-law faced as a person living with multiple sclerosis. The President also vowed to continue to work to “tear down those barriers” disabled people face on a daily basis.
Watch the video of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act
According to the ADA’s website, “the ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services.”
This comprehensive piece of legislation enjoyed widespread bipartisan support from government officials such as Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and John McCain, R-Ariz.
For a person to be covered under the ADA, he or she must have a disability. The ADA defines the term “disability,” with respect to an individual, as follows:
- a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;
- a record of such an impairment; or
- being regarded as having such an impairment
The ADA aims to cover all aspects of life: employment, state and local governments, and public accommodations and commercial facilities.
The employment section prohibits most employers, with a few exceptions, from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. The State and local governments section protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by State and local government entities. The public accommodations and commercial facilities section prohibits discrimination based on disability in places such as restaurants, doctor’s offices and schools. It also requires newly constructed and altered facilities to comply with ADA standards.
The above is a very brief summary on what the ADA covers; to read the ADA in its entirety, please click here.
If you feel your rights have been violated due to your disability, you may file an ADA complaint.