“Three weeks ago we celebrated our nation’s Independence Day. Today we’re here to rejoice in and celebrate another ‘independence day,’ one that is long overdue. With today’s signing of the landmark Americans for Disabilities Act, every man, woman, and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence, and freedom.”Source: Remarks of President George Bush at the Signing of the ADA
United Disabilities Services (UDS) is proud to support the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 30th Anniversary. On July 26th we celebrate this important civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Due to this landmark legislation, in the last 30 years, our country has seen new laws such as:
- Rehabilitation Act Amendments emphasizing employment as the primary goal of vocational rehabilitation (1992)
- Telecommunications Act requires telecommunications manufacturers and service providers to ensure that equipment is designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. (1996)
- The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to provide annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits on par with such limits on medical and surgical benefits. (1996)
- Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) integrated various federal education, training, and employment services for job seekers and employers. (1998)
- The U.S. Supreme Court issued the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. decision. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation of people with disabilities when integrated, community-based settings are an option, is a form of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (1999)
- The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 built upon legislation from earlier decades to improve services for people with developmental disabilities in a number of areas, including employment. (2000)
- The Assistive Technology Act of 2004, signed by President George W. Bush, amended a previous version of the Act to reflect developments in technology in all aspects of community life, including employment. (2004)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 made important changes to the definition of the term “disability,” reversing previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions in favor of a broad and inclusive interpretation. These changes made it easier for a person seeking protection under the law to establish eligibility under it and required courts to focus more on assessing the extent of discriminatory practices than the technical definition of the term. (2008)
- The U.S. Department of Justice published revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These regulations adopted enforceable accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which set minimum requirements (”both scoping and technical”) for newly designed and constructed or altered state and local government facilities, public accommodations and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. (2010)
- The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act improved financial stability and employment options for persons with disabilities by authorizing tax-advantaged savings accounts for youth and adults with disabilities. Assets in “ABLE” accounts can be used to cover any qualified disability-related expenses and are not counted when determining eligibility for federally funded means-tested benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. As a result, people with disabilities can save earnings from employment without jeopardizing eligibility for needed benefits. (2014)
- The 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) was passed, requiring federal agencies to modernize their websites and digital services, according to eight specific criteria, including accessibility for people with disabilities. Federal agencies must already meet the accessibility standards of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; however, IDEA emphasizes those requirements and sets a deadline for compliance. It also requires federal chief information officers to coordinate with other executives and ensure adequate funding and resources to execute its requirements. (2018)
Today, people with disabilities have more opportunities and protections than ever before, but we must continue to look for ways to advocate for these individuals. UDS is committed to championing the rights of individuals with disabilities in our community and helping to fulfill the vision that the ADA started 30 years ago.
If you have a question about available disability resources, please contact the UDS Resource Center at 888-837-4235.