30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). July 26th, 1990 was a monumental day for not only disability but civil rights. Prior to its passage, individuals with disabilities hardly had any protections (depending on the state) granting equal access to institutions throughout the country. The ADA is the foundation for disability rights. It gave individuals with disabilities “a spot at the table”. Institutions could no longer ignore the issue of access and there were now federal protections in place for individuals for anyone facing discrimination because of their ability. Without the ADA many would not have access to most places of public accommodation ranging from libraries to hospitals where some couldn’t receive basic healthcare protections.

We have to recognize the many individuals with disabilities who had to fight for decades before this legislation could even be considered. As an individual with a disability, I couldn’t imagine living in our country without basic rights to access. Entering a building, utilizing public transportation, and using a public restroom are just some of the basic rights that didn’t exist before the ADA. I have the privilege of being raised with ADA protections. Many individuals were not afforded all of the protections and rights available today because of the ADA. As we acknowledge the importance of the ADA, we must also recognize the heroes (Brad Lomax & Ed Roberts to name a few) who came before us and fought tirelessly for rights of the disabled community.

Even with all of protections the ADA granted, we still have a long way to go as a country. Providing access can still viewed as “costly” and “not worth it”. The rates of individuals with disabilities being employed are dismal. The ADA (and the Disability Rights Movement) failed to recognize the intersection between individuals with disabilities and race, gender, sexual orientation, and other underrepresented populations to address additional barriers individuals face. The ADA still hasn’t been amended to regulate website accessibility (the internet boom was in the mid-90s).  Without the ADA though there would be an endless amount of barriers to create equal access. If you’re interested in learning more about the ADA, below are some great ways to reflect on the significance of its passage.

In Solidarity,

Bryan Fauth
Equity & Inclusion Council Member