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Americans with Disabilities Act Became Law 20 Years Ago Monday

It was 20 years ago Monday, July 26, that President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. When he signed the monumental law, he borrowed a line from Ronald Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech, saying, “Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” The broad civil rights law was meant to make discrimination based on a person’s disability illegal, much as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, and other personal characteristics.

The ADA is just one law to keep in mind when forming a business. The law made it so that employers and potential employers cannot discriminate against people with disabilities, and it also mandated more accessibility in the workplace. The ADA requires that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” for employees who have disabilities. The law also mandated that public and commercial structures and public transportation become more accessible to those with disabilities.

As the 20-year anniversary of the ADA is acknowledged, many around the country are considering how the ADA has impacted business and society in the United States since its passage. According to a piece by CNN, when George H.W. Bush signed the ADA he also had to calm fears that the law would be “too vague or costly, or may lead endlessly to litigation.” Indeed, some still also openly question whether the law truly is too vague, costly, or leads to frivolous lawsuits.

At the same time, many are wondering how much further the ADA can and should go in order to truly finish breaking down barriers for those with disabilities. The Obama administration employees several people with disabilities. His administation also appointed the first White House adviser on disability policy, Kareem Dale. Dale, who is legally blind, believes that the ADA should be updated to incorporate today’s advances in technology, such as making commercial websites more accessible to visitors with disabilities.

  

Sources:

Americans with Disabilities Act marks 20 years (The Washington Post)

Disabilities debate rages 20 years later (CNN)

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