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ADA 30th Anniversary

By Briana Livelsberger

On July 26, 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, making today the act’s 30th anniversary.

The ADA, “prohibits discrimination and guaranttees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in mainstream American life” (Introduction). In other words, people with disabilities should be able to go shopping, work, vote for government officials, or run for office without being discriminated against. Before this act, disabled individuals were turned away from jobs for no other reason than their disability. In addition, it was common practice that, should someone get into an accident and become disabled, they would be fired from their job. While these occurrences still happen, it can be fought against because this act is in place.

The ADA was introduced after decades of society shunning and ostracizing individuals with disabilities. In the 1700s, there was so much shame surrounding disabled individuals that their caretakers often hid them away and/or left them to die. In the 1800s, institutionalized care became popular places for families to put disabled family members but the institutions did not do anything more than keep them away from the rest of society. However, because of the wars in the 1900s, more laws were passed to allow individuals with disabilities to work after fighting in these wars. But it wasn’t until 1990 that a law like the ADA was passed (ADA Anniversary).

There is still a lot that needs to be done for individuals with disabilities to be able to have the same opportunities as other Americans. For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act does not keep employers from paying disabled employees below minimum wage if employers “perceive”  their disabled employees’ productivity is low (Bashay, CLASP). Many times during the current administration, new rules within Social Security, healthcare, education, and the workplace have been proposed that would make many disabled individuals cease to gain benefits.

But the Americans with Disabilities Act has done a lot to show that disabled individuals deserve to have access to what able-bodied individuals take for granted by continuing to fight for our rights. This act set the stage for further wins and continues to provide hope that further progress will be made.


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