The 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

This Sunday, July 26th marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being passed into law. Prior to this law, there were large gaps in federal regulations that protected the rights of people with disabilities in the United States. In the late 1986, the National Council on the Handicapped (now National Council on Disability, or NCD) published a report entitled “Towards Independence” in which they identified key areas in which people with disabilities were not receiving equal treatment. The report also proposed that legislation to protect the rights of the disability community was needed.

The ADA of 1990 has five sections covering Employment, State and Local Government, Public Accommodations, Telecommunications, and Miscellaneous Provisions. Some of the major points of the ADA are mandating the accessibility of public spaces and transportation, creating equal opportunities for employment and schooling, ensuring that individuals with hearing and speech disabilities have access to telecommunications, and overall requiring accommodations for people with disabilities so that they may be afforded the same opportunities and rights as Americans without disabilities. The ADA has been amended since its passing and has been interpreted in several Supreme Court cases. For a full timeline of the ADA, visit the ADA National Network’s page.

Many members of the SRNA community identify as having a disability, and the ADA has helped ensure the rights of our community members living and travelling in the United States. At the 2019 Rare Neuroimmune Disorders Symposium, we hosted a workshop on ADA, Disability, and Benefits, which you can view here. While the U.S. has come a long way in ensuring the rights of people with disabilities since 1990, there are still areas of improvement. Earlier this year, a member of our community, Liv Bender, wrote about her struggles with accessibility in New York City, which you can read about here. As we reflect on the last 30 years of the ADA, we look forward to the future of advocating for our community and all those who deserve equal access and opportunity.

If you are interested in learning more about the ADA and what rights are ensured under it, the ADA National Network has a free online course aimed at increasing knowledge of the ADA. You can learn more and register here.