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The American with Disabilities Act Anniversary Commemorates 30 Years of Progress

June 29, 2020

Thirty years ago, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the comprehensive civil rights legislation affirming that people with disabilities have the right to the same opportunities as everyone else across all aspects of society. The date, July 26, 1990, marked a turning point for Americans with disabilities, protecting them against discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state, and local government services (including public transportation), public accommodations (including private transportation and places such as movie theaters, stores, and doctors' offices), and telecommunications. The ADA has five sections, called “titles,” that relate to these different areas of life. Collectively, they ensure people with disabilities have equal opportunity to economic self-sufficiency and full participation in America’s workplaces and communities.

Later, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) amended the ADA and other disability discrimination laws in response to a number of decisions by the Supreme Court. Specifically, the ADAAA changed the definition of the term "disability" by clarifying and broadening it, which, in turn, increased the number of people protected under the ADA and other federal nondiscrimination laws, including protections related to employment.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) announced plans for a yearlong recognition of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) centered around the theme, “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” Commemoration activities include events, speeches, and new compliance assistance resources. The ADA anniversary will also serve as a key component of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) observance in October.

With funding from ODEP, the LEAD Center is continuing its work to promote equal opportunity within the broader workforce system for youth and adults with disabilities, advance the development of inclusive career pathways, support economic advancement and financial literacy, and provide up-to-date data to the field on employment and related results for people with disabilities.

To learn more about ODEP’s ADA commemoration, visit dol.gov/odep/topics/ADA.htm. To learn more about its disability-related policy work, visit dol.gov/odep.