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What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

On July 26, 1990, exactly 29 years ago today, the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA became federal law. Learn why the legislation still matters so much.

The ADA is a piece of civil rights legislation that “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.” The legislation applies to:

  • Employment
  • Schools
  • Transportation
  • State and local services from the government
  • Public and private locations open to the public
  • Telecommunications, including websites

The goal of the ADA is to ensure that anyone with a disability can live without fear of discrimination, lack of opportunities, or lack of human rights–the same rights extended to all citizens regardless of race, color, sex, country of origin, religion, or age.

“Disability” is a term that, on a federal level, includes physical, cognitive, hearing, or visual conditions or diagnoses.

In 2018, the legislation was expanded via the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA).

You can see a complete ADA description and explanation at adata.org.

Celebrating the ADA in 2019 and Beyond

There are many ways for people with or without disabilities to recognize and celebrate the importance of the ADA. There are also ways for businesses and organizations to ensure that their work honors the ADA each day. A few suggestions include:

  • Reviewing websites to ensure that they are fully accessible
  • Creating focus groups including people with disabilities to identify ways to improve accessibility
  • Building playgrounds and public walkways that incorporate ADA principles
  • Appointing interpreters for all public events and meetings
  • Participating in ADA webinars, online courses, and conferences
  • Hosting or sponsoring a disability-inclusive event
  • Exhibiting artwork from people with disabilities
  • Holding a public event to showcase accessibility devices
  • Publicly sharing how the ADA has impacted your life or the lives of others

Our organization is proud to serve as a lifeline for individuals with disabilities and their families, caregivers, and extended communities. We celebrate the ADA for its ability to inform employers and private citizens, support accessibility as a human right, and defend opportunities for people with disabilities from all walks of life.

If you’d like to know more about how the ADA protects the rights of people with disabilities, creating a more accessible world for all, visit the official ADA FAQ.