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, and added to it in 2021. 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.
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
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
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
Last modified on 07/12/2021