The Americans with Disabilities Act

The History and Spirit Behind the ADA

On July 26, 1990, President Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights legislation provides comprehensive civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public accommodations, state and local government services and telecommunications.

The ADA specifically lists its purpose and findings and is generally arranged under five separate titles. The law’s clearly stated goals are to promote equal opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.

To ensure a genuine, meaningful opportunity for individuals to live and fully participate in their communities and foster economic security, stability and productivity, the law recognizes the importance of taking specific concrete steps to removing societal barriers, including providing workplace and program accommodations and communication aids and services, as well as designing and constructing accessible buildings.

Improving the quality of life and ensuring equal rights for persons with disabilities involves a movement that is unfolding all over the world – its appeal is universal. At its core is the belief that everyone should have an opportunity to reach their full human potential.

The ADA is a work in progress. Clearly, there have been significant steps forward. These past successes offer real reasons for optimism about the future. It is more important to focus on what needs to get done – and the renewed energy it will take to fully achieve the ADA’s lofty goals.