JULY 26, 2021
At SOAR365, we’re excited to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA was passed and signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, after being first introduced to the 100th congress in 1988 by Senator Weicker and Representative Coehlo
July 26, 1990:
President George H.W. Bush signs ADA legislation into law on the South Lawn of the White House
The ADA is a civil rights law – modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1954 – that prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s disability in all areas of public life such as employment, schools, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.
But its real history is found in the efforts of disability rights advocates across the country, including young Jennifer Keelan-Chaffin. At just 8 years old, Keelan-Chaffin pulled herself out of her wheelchair and crawled up the steps of the US Capitol Building in support of the ADA.
Jennifer Keelan gets a hug from her mother as she reaches the top of the steps at the ‘Captiol Crawl’. Photo by Tom Olin, courtesy of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins
“The results today are powerful: most public buses have lifts for wheelchairs; disabled children attend school alongside their nondisabled peers; and employers are generally aware that people with disabilities have civil rights they cannot violate.”
— TIME, JULY 23, 2020, “30 YEARS AFTER A LANDMARK DISABILITY LAW, THE FIGHT FOR ACCESS AND EQUALITY CONTINUES.
Now, the legacy of the ADA can be seen everywhere: in designated parking spots, ramps, equal access to jobs, special education programs in schools, and accessible restrooms. But before 1990, people using wheelchairs wouldn’t be able to ride a bus, a restaurant could refuse to serve people with disabilities, and employers could refuse to hire a person based on their disability.
There is still much room for improvement and much work to be done, and things are continually changing: the ADA has been amended several times and the regulations have been updated over the years.
And just as the ADA continues to grow, so do we. SOAR365 was created in 1954 by local families determined to find a better way to care for and support their loves ones with disabilities. We have always believed that our communities are stronger when everyone is included and has what they need to succeed, and we now proudly serve more than 1,500 individuals and families in a typical year.
To learn more about our programs and services, please visit www.soar365.org.
Here at SOAR365, we celebrate the milestones achieved and work every day toward improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. Visit www.soar365.org to learn more.
Resources for Learning More:
Article on the history of the ADA from Time Magazine: https://time.com/5870468/americans-with-disabilities-act-coronavirus/
Information about the ADA and tools for sharing information with others about the ADA and disability: https://www.adaanniversary.org/home
Comprehensive information on the ADA: https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm
Real testimonials about how the ADA changed people’s lives: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/27/895651325/americans-with-disabilities-act-examining-its-impact-3-decades-later