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July 26, 2024 marks the 34th anniversary of the ADA.  

Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act

On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law; this landmark civil rights law affirmed the inherent dignity of every person, regardless of disability. This sweeping legislation prohibits discrimination by local and state governments, provides standards for privately owned businesses and commercial facilities, protects people with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace, and ensures equal access to healthcare, social services, transportation, and telecommunications. Since its enactment, our country has taken great strides toward the ADA's promise of true inclusion, and Americans with and without disabilities increasingly live, learn, work, play and contribute side by side.

The Administration for Community Living and the Office for Civil Rights work closely together to defend the rights of people with disabilities and ensure equal access to all facets of life, throughout life. We came together to create this website in 2020. Our goal was to celebrate the ADA by telling the story of how the ADA came to be, showcase some of the progress we have made as a country toward achieving its promise, and illustrate a little bit of the work being done by ACL and OCR, as well as other partners within HHS and across government. Most important, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the impact of the ADA by letting people with disabilities tell you a little bit about their lives.


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In Their Own Words: The History of the ADA

The ADA is the culmination of many years of determined effort by people with disabilities and other disability advocates, and it came to life with the support of many in Congress and across the Bush Administration. Some led the charge visibly, while others worked behind the scenes. Through recent interviews and historical footage, some of those key figures narrate the events and milestones that led to the ADA’s creation and passage.

Origins of the ADA

Consensus by the mid-1980s was that addition legislation was needed to uphold the civil rights of people with disabilities. Here’s how it got started.

Learn more about Origins of the ADA

Crafting the Law

Moving from consensus about the general need to a law everyone could support took patience, perseverance, and a lot of pounding the pavement.

Learn more about Crafting the Law

The ADA Becomes Law

Getting the bill through Congress took 11 hearings and two conferences over nine months, and last-minute negotiations over contentious issues threatened its survival.

Learn more about The ADA Becomes Law

Real People, Real Stories. Their Stories.

Achieving the Promise: Inclusion and Integration in America

With a national expectation of accessibility and full participation clearly established by the ADA, we have seen an explosion of tools and technology to assist people with a wide range of disabilities; advances in the accessibility of health care and greater recognition of the equal rights of people with disabilities to receive both life-saving and routine care; and schools, workplaces, and recreational activities are more inclusive than ever before of the approximately sixty-one million Americans with disabilities.

Tools and Tech

We all use tools to make our lives easier, and technological advancements have given all of us the ability to do things we could not do on our own. For many people with disabilities, tools and technology are rapidly expanding opportunities for inclusion and independence.

Learn more about Tools and Tech

Health Care

People with disabilities often face barriers to accessing health care: inaccessible facilities and equipment can literally prevent access; inaccurate assumptions can lead doctors to offer fewer or less aggressive options; and in extreme – but not rare – cases, people are denied care because of their disabilities. HHS is tackling this in multiple ways, and there have been many advances in physical accessibility, as well.

Learn more about Health Care

Learn, Work, and Play

Communities are strongest when everyone can contribute, and everyone benefits when everyone is included from early childhood throughout our lives. Across the United States, communities are changing to be more inclusive of people with disabilities – in schools, workplaces, sports and other recreational activities, the arts, and more.

Learn more about Learn, Work, and Play



ADA: A Timeline

ADA Milestones
Extended description of the ADA Timeline is provided here. 1986 was the NCD move toward independence; in 1988 the ADA was introduced at the 100th Congress; in 1990 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed; in 1999 the Supreme Court passed the Olmstead Act; in 2008 the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed; in 2014 the U.S. Access Board Guidelines went into effect; in 2015 the ADA celebrated 25 years; and in 2020 the ADA is celebrating its 30th year.

Last modified on 07/12/2021

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