This week marks the 23rd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, the ADA is the most important civil rights law for Americans with disabilities. The ADA has increased physical access to all kinds of stores, government buildings, and offices. In the work place, we are seeing more people who have disabilities working alongside their colleagues who do not have disabilities. At large conferences, it is routine now to see interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing and Braille documents for people who are blind or have visual impairments.
For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), the ADA has meant having the right to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate. Many people with I/DD have been able to leave large, segregated institutions and move into homes in communities. We have seen a huge increase in home and community-based services and a steady decline in the number of people living in institutions over the past 23 years.
But, we still have more to do. Too many people are on long waiting lists for community-based services and supports and are at risk of having to go into an institution. Too many people who want a home of their own are still living in large congregate settings. And, too many people with I/DD are living in nursing homes. Far too many individuals with disabilities want to work but are unemployed.
While many barriers to full participation in society remain, let’s take a minute to celebrate the many positive changes that have been brought about by the ADA!
Here’s what some people and groups are saying about the ADA on this anniversary:
- The Arc of New Jersey’s President, Bob Hage;
- Tom Perez, the new Secretary of Labor and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Department of Justice;
- The Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division;
- Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) blog post and video;
- Facts on the ADA anniversary, from the U.S. Census;
- President Obama, Proclamation;
- White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett blog post.