July 26th, 2016 marked the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA, passed in 1990, has improved access to the community and integrated employment for many Americans with disabilities who may have otherwise been unnecessarily segregated from the greater community. The ADA banned disability discrimination in employment, publicly-funded services and programs, and public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants, including access to any auxiliary aids and services necessary to make equal benefit possible.
Much has changed since ADA was passed in 1990. Curb cuts and ramps provide access to many public places and places of employment that were previously inaccessible to people with disabilities. Several cases, including the landmark Supreme Court case Olmstead v. L.C., have found that rules which segregate people with disabilities away from their communities violate the ADA. The Department of Justice has promulgated rules and regulations ensuring that the ADA’s anti-discrimination mandate is upheld.
The LEAD Center celebrates the increased self-determination and inclusion of persons with disabilities, and the progress that has been made at all levels of government towards the full implementation of the ADA. The ADA supports the LEAD Center’s work to promote employment and economic advancement for people with disabilities. As noted by President George H.W. Bush at the signing of the ADA, “Together, we must remove the physical barriers we have created and the social barriers that we have accepted. For ours will never be a truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper.”