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2015: The ADA Celebrates 25 Years

Published: January 02, 2015 at 9:01AM

photo of President George Bush signing the ADA of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 marks its 25th anniversary July 26, 2015.  Enacted by the 101st United States Congress and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, the ADA was hailed as the benchmark legislation for individuals with disabilities.  While comparing it with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Bush described the legislation as “the world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities.”1

Among many other requirements, Title III of the Act outlined accommodation requirements for persons with disabilities in the public domain.  This opened up an entirely new field within the architecture profession.  Accommodations for individuals with disabilities once designed as a courtesy, then became a requirement and by 1992, all new construction had to be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.

In 2008, after seventeen years of hearings, case law interpretation by lower courts, and interpretation of the law by the Supreme Court, The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act was passed largely due to the need of a broader definition of an individual with a disability.  The amended Act “made it easier for individuals seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.”2

A few years later, the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design were adopted by the Department of Justice. Based on the Access Board’s ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines of 2004, the new 2010 ADA Standards replaced the 1991 ADA Standards. The 2010 ADA Standards went into effect March 2012 and included updated figures and requirements, informative advisories and a broadened scope including accessibility requirements for recreational facilities such as golf, boating and swimming pools.

According to the 2010 US Census Bureau, there are approximately 56.7 million Americans with some kind of disability.3 For 25 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act has served as a catalyst for improving the Civil Rights of persons with disabilities, requiring access to buildings, facilities and programs for people with all types of abilities.

As part of the 25th Anniversary celebration, the ADA National Network has launched a website detailing a full listing of events and opportunities for businesses and individuals to celebrate and recognize this important milestone.  One of the opportunities include signing and sharing a "PLEDGE ON!" Proclamation to recommit to full implementation of the ADA.  Other events include nationwide webinars, expos and training throughout 2015.  A full description of events can be found on the ADA’s 25th anniversary website at http://www.adaanniversary.org/events or in corada's Calendar

Join us in this year of celebration!


1 Remarks By The President During Ceremony for the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 07/26/1990; http://research.archives.gov/description/6037492 - See also: the video of President Bush signing the ADA into law

U. S. Equal Opportunity Commission; http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_info.cfm

3 U. S. Census Bureau; http://www.census.gov/people/disability/; Americans with Disabilities: 2010 Household Economic Studies Current Population Reports; Brault; P70-131