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Celebrating the 32nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 26, 2022

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. The ADA prohibits discrimination by local and state governments, provides standards for privately owned businesses and commercial facilities, stands against discrimination in the workplace, and ensures equal access to healthcare, social services, transportation, and telecommunications.

Adding to the celebrations, July also is Disability Pride Month, offering people around the country a chance to share why they are proud to be a part of the disability community. This page compiles some of the many resources, events, and blogs blogs from ACL, our disability grantees and stakeholders, and our federal partners.

Get started with the #ADA32 Toolkit

The ADA National Network's #ADA32 Toolkit has a variety of resources to help you celebrate including sample social media content, factsheets, trainings, and archived podcasts. Funded by ACL's National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the ADA National Network provides information, guidance and training on how to implement the ADA in order to support the mission to “assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” The network includes 10 regional ADA centers located throughout the United States.

From the White House

In a proclamation celebrating the 32nd Anniversary of the ADA, President Biden writes, "As we celebrate the legacy of the ADA, let us take this opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made and renew our commitment to achieving the ADA’s full promise of advancing disability equity, dignity, access, and inclusion."

The White House also released a fact sheet highlighting actions the federal government has taken over the past year to promote greater equity and inclusion for Americans with disabilities.

From across HHS

  • Advancing health equity and inclusion: "From the classroom and the workplace, to the doctor’s office and the ballot box, our nation has made great strides over the past three decades to fulfill the ADA's promise," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote in a statement that outlined dozens of actions that have been taken across HHS to uphold the rights of people with disabilities. "But while we celebrate this progress, we know we still have work to do to make our country accessible and inclusive of everyone." Sec. Becerra also discussed the ADA during an interview with CNN.

  • Transitions and diversions to help people with disabilities live in the community: "ACL’s programs – and the disability and aging networks that operate them in communities across the country – are making it possible for millions of people to live self-determined lives in their own communities," Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging and ACL Administrator Alison Barkoff writes in the ACL blog. "However, far too many people who can and want to live in the community remain in institutions, and others are at risk of being forced into institutions despite wanting to stay in their own homes and communities." Her blog outlines how ACL and our partners are working to address this issue by supporting the Money Follows the Person program, access to housing, and a strong direct care workforce.

  • Enforcing civil rights: In her blog post, Acting Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights Melanie Fontes Rainer shared some of her division's recent work to uphold federal civil rights protections for disabled people, including actions to address allegations of discrimination based on disability and a variety of guidance issued to help covered entities meet their obligations under federal law. For example, yesterday, OCR  announced a proposed rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which includes a number of provisions that would strengthen civil rights protections for people with disabilities. For example, the rule clarifies that the “integration mandate” of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to health programs and activities that receive funding from HHS.  

  • In a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration blog post, Kimberly Reynolds, M.P.A, M.Ed of the Center for Mental Health Services, discusses the importance of enhancing opportunities for full community participation for people experiencing mental health and substance use conditions and highlights the work of SAMHSA’s Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program.

  • This CDC Fact Sheet describes the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities, steps CDC has taken to promote inclusion and accessibility during the pandemic, and the importance of accessible data about the disability community.

From our federal partners

  • Advancing disability employment: In a post for the Department of Labor's blog,  Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Taryn M. Williams writes about the legacy of the ADA, the importance of competitive integrated employment, and the need to reach historically underserved communities. "At our agency, our mission — to develop and influence policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities — advances the spirit of the ADA, as affirmed by [the Supreme Court's Olmstead v. LC ruling]," Williams concludes. "We’re committed to delivering on that mission, for all workers with disabilities."

  • A Ticket to Work success storyWriting for the Social Security Matters Blog, Acting Associate Commissioner for the  Social Security Administration's Office of Disability and Retirement Policy Susan Wilschke shares how the Ticket to Work program helped a deaf job seeker secure full-time employment - and learn about his rights under the ADA in the process.
  • "The continued urgency of ADA enforcement:": In a Justice Department statement commemorating the 32nd ADA anniversary, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division writes that the department "will continue using this bedrock civil rights law to eliminate barriers and safeguard the rights of people with disabilities across the country.” The statement highlights issues the department has been working to address including web accessibility, artificial intelligence in hiring, access to transportation, fair treatment for individuals with opioid use disorders, and the segregation and criminalization of people with disabilities.

  • A global beacon: "This landmark U.S. law sparked an international shift from viewing persons with disabilities as objects of charity to individuals with rights, fully capable of exercising these rights," State Department spokesperson Ned Price writes in a statement celebrating the ADA. "This perspective serves as a beacon to the more than one billion persons with disabilities worldwide—one in every seven of us.

  • More inclusive emergency management: Writing for the FEMA blog, Office of Disability Integration and Coordination Acting Director Jason Lagria shares how the Americans with Disabilities Act has reinforced FEMA's commitment to serving people of all abilities before, during, and after disasters.

  • Housing, a key to community living: In a press release celebrating disability pride and the anniversary of the ADA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development makes clear that, "supporting community living through affordable, integrated, and accessible housing is a top priority at HUD and pursued every day as a cross-departmental effort." The release includes a fact sheet highlighting "some of the recent ways HUD is ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access our housing programs to transition from or avoid institutional settings, avoid housing discrimination and exclusion on the basis of their disability, and maximize their choice and independence."

Learn More about the ADA

  • The ADA Basics:  This overview from the ADA National Network summarizes the law, and the ADA Publications and Fact Sheets page on their website includes a wide variety of resources to help people with disabilities understand their rights under the ADA, as well as resources to help businesses, employers, health care providers and others ensure that people with disabilities have the equal access guaranteed by the ADA. 

  • ADA History and Impact: ACL and HHS' Office for Civil Rights created a website 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. The site also shines a spotlight on the impact of the ADA by letting people with disabilities tell you a little bit about their lives. The site was updated and expanded in July 2021 for the 31st anniversary of the ADA.

  • Paving the Way for the ADA: In 1986, the National Council on the Handicapped (known today as the National Council on Disability) released "Toward Independence: An Assessment of Federal Laws and Programs Affecting Persons with Disabilities - With Legislative Recommendations." The groundbreaking report to the president and Congress included these recommendations:

Congress should enact a comprehensive law requiting equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities, with broad coverage and setting clear, consistent, and enforceable standards prohibiting discrimination on the basis of handicap.

Such a statute should be packaged as a single comprehensive bill, perhaps under such a title as "The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1986." The recommendations which follow spell out more specifically the components which such a bill should contain in order to create a comprehensive and effective equal opportunity law for individuals with disabilities.

Last modified on 07/29/2022

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