30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 26, 2020

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

This year marks the 30th anniversary of a major milestone in our nation's history—the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Since it became law on July 26,1990, this landmark legislation has helped increase inclusion and opportunities for people with disabilities in almost every aspect of American life. 

ACL is celebrating this historic event through a number of activities.

New Website About the Americans with Disabilities Act and Impact

To celebrate the 30th anniversary, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) – both at U.S. Health & Human Services (HHS) – partnered to create a website that tells the story of how the ADA came to be, showcases some of the progress we have made as a country toward achieving the ADA's promise of true inclusion, and illustrates some of the work being done within HHS and across government, to continue to remove the barriers to inclusion people with disabilities often face. Most important, through short video interviews, you can hear from people with disabilities about how the expectations for access and inclusion created by the ADA have affected their lives.

See also a blog from ACL Administrator Lance Robertson: "Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

See also the Presidential Proclamation on the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Virtual Celebration Presented by ACL and OCR

At noon ET on Thursday, July 30, ACL and OCR will host a virtual celebration of the anniversary. ACL Administrator Lance Robertson and OCR Director Roger Severino will be joined by Lynn Johnson, Administrator of the Administration for Children and Families; Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, Director of the Indian Health Service; and Calder Lynch, Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, for a discussion of the progress we have made as a department – and a nation – in the years since the ADA established a clear expectation of accessibility and full participation, as well as the work that still remains to remove barriers to inclusion and equal access to all facets of American life.   

The event will be livestreamed, and in effort to improve the viewing experience for the deaf and hard of hearing audience, there will be a second livestream that includes American Sign Language translation in a format that is more similar to in-person events. 

More ADA Celebrations

On July 29 from 1:30-3 p.m. ET the Access Board is hosting a virtual celebration event featuring a discussion of the ADA and its achievements with guest speakers and Access Board members, including Chair and ACL Administrator Lance Robertson. It will start off with a documentary that provides a vivid picture of the world before the ADA, including widespread discrimination of people with disabilities and early achievements of the disability rights movement. Judy Heumann, a leader in the disability rights movement and lifelong advocate for people with disabilities, will discuss the accomplishments of the ADA. The event will conclude with a presentation from Board Member and architect Karen Braitmayer on how the ADA has spurred architecture and design to be more inclusive of everyone. She will also review new frontiers in accessibility and work that lies ahead to maintain the promises of the ADA.

On July 30 from 2-4 p.m. ET the Department of Transportation is hosting “Breaking Down Barriers: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” This event will bring together leaders across the government to acknowledge accomplishments in transportation that have resulted from this landmark civil rights legislation. In addition to celebrating the ADA’s success, speakers will also discuss what actions need to be taken to ensure an accessible transportation future for all Americans. Lance Robertson will participate on a panel that will begin at approximately 2:40 p.m. ET.  


Since the ADA became law, Americans with and without disabilities increasingly live, learn, work, play, and contribute side by side. Since communities are strongest when everyone can contribute, and everyone benefits when everyone is included – from early childhood throughout our lives – the ADA is something we all should celebrate. We’ve pulled together a few tools to help.  


Last modified on 08/04/2021

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