mwcil_org_dartOn July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) first became a law (Lhamon, 2015). The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, as well as telecommunications. Twenty-five years ago, the

ADA acknowledged that all people are entitled to fully participate in our communities as well as our democracy (Obama, 2015). The legislation recognizes that all Americans have something to contribute and deserve every chance to achieve their full potential. For individuals with disabilities, the ADA promises opportunity, fairness, and complete participation in all aspects of American life.

It protects each person’s right to independence and empowers society, as well as our economy, to benefit from the many talents and contributions of all Americans by removing barriers to employment, transportation, public services, telecommunications, and public accommodations.

For twenty-five years, the ADA has helped mold perceptions, boost access, and support success (Lhamon, 2015). The law has produced many great results, but one of the greatest results has been the right of self-determination for people with disabilities. In the past, many life decisions were made for people with disabilities instead of by people with disabilities. Today, millions of people have the freedom to shape their own lives and create their own future, whether they have a physical disabilities, intellectual disability, psychiatric disability, learning disability, or any other disability.

Today, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA and all that has been accomplished since its passing in 1990, but we also recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done. Individuals and families are still running into barriers that exclude them from various opportunities. People continue to experience discrimination and structural inequalities that limit them from achieving their dreams.

Young people with disabilities are still experiencing bullying in schools, and many people with disabilities who want to work, and who are able to work, are often denied a job because of their disability. People with disabilities deserve access to quality health care, affordable housing, inclusive communities, and innovative technology that can transform our world (Obama, 2015). The ADA needs to be actively enforced and work needs to be done to toughen the protections against disability-based discrimination, increase accessibility and inclusiveness in our community, and expand opportunities for employment, education, and financial independence for individuals and families with disabilities.

Disability influences us all. More than 50 million people in America have a disability (Obama, 2015). Everyone deserves equal access, equal opportunities, and equal respect, and we must do our share to ensure that those things are being delivered. The 25th anniversary of the ADA’s passage is more than just a celebration (Lhamon, 2015). The 25th anniversary gives us an opportunity to devote ourselves to the values that the ADA represents and renew our commitment to helping all Americans flourish – in schools, employment, and every part of public life.

Lhamon, C. (2015). Celebrating 25 Years of Progress: Civil Rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Obama, B. (2015). Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 2015. The White House Office of the Press Secretary.

For more information or to ask a question, contact SMILES here: contact form or call 507-345-7139 (1/888-676-6498 toll free)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the most comprehensive federal civil-rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Listed below are links to

ADA Home Page

Great Lakes ADA & Accessible IT Center

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities

ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA & IT Technical Assistance Centers

ADA Guide for Small Businesses

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Wikipedia)

For more information or to ask a question, contact SMILES here: contact form or call 507-345-7139 (1/888-676-6498 toll free)