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30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Expanding Opportunities

Artist Unknown

Offset, Circa 1990s

United States



July 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This act is one of many important milestones in the continuing civil rights movement. It prohibits discrimination based on disability and protects the rights of people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act also enforces public accessibility requirements and provides work accommodations from employers. It finally afforded people with disabilities the same protections that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had provided on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

Since 2000, 181 countries have passed similar legislation inspired by the ADA. Despite being signed into law 30 years, it is still limited and there is more to be done in the fight for equal accessibility. Justin Dart, the co-founder of the American Association of People with Disabilities, wrote in ADA: Landmark Declaration of Equity, “But ADA is only the beginning. It is not a solution. Rather, it is an essential foundation on which solutions will be constructed.” After three decades of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there has been a lot of positive change in terms of accessibility for all.

The ADA has been a significant part of the civil rights movement, but there remains much work to be done. As we reflect and celebrate the anniversary of the ADA and the change that followed, we must continue to work to change how society views disabilities. As AAPD President & CEO, Maria Town puts it, “Today, we are fortunate enough to celebrate the many diverse cultures and identities, but many of the dominant narratives about disability still focus on disability as something to be overcome or cured or even something to inspire non-disable