It was 20 years ago Monday that President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The law’s goal was to break down barriers facing people with disabilities in society and the workplace. The ADA is a broad law that is meant to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities and to prevent them from being discriminated against, much like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on religion, race, sex, national origin, and other factors.
As the anniversary was acknowledged around the country, there was much discussion as to how far the country has come since the passage of the law and how much further there still is to go to level the playing field for people with disabilities. While most agree that the United States has made great strides since the ADA passed in making public and commercial structures, public transportation, and workplaces more accessible, many feel there is still a long way to go.
Some experts in the field, according to a piece by The Christian Science Monitor, feel that the biggest barrier to break down is attitudinal. Many Americans still don’t realize that people with disabilities are extremely productive members of society. In addition, people with disabilities tend to do best and keep their jobs in workplaces where their employer cares about creating a culture sensitive and supportive to their needs, as opposed to a workplace where the employer may try to sneak around the law.
ADA at 20: breakthroughs abound, but some attitudes unchanged (The Christian Science Monitor)
Americans with Disabilities Act marks 20 years (The Washington Post)