On July 26th, 2015 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turned 25. This historic piece of federal legislation was passed in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The Act was modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The ADA protects people with disabilities against discrimination in employment, government activities, public accommodations, commercial facilities, public transportation, and telecommunications.
The preamble states the purpose of the Act and is worth quoting.
The Congress finds that:
(1) physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society, yet many people with physical or mental disabilities have been precluded from doing so because of discrimination; others who have a record of a disability or are regarded as having a disability also have been subjected to discrimination;
(2) historically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, and, despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem;
(3) discrimination against individuals with disabilities persists in such critical areas as employment, housing, public accommodations, education, transportation, communication, recreation, institutionalization, health services, voting, and access to public services;
(4) unlike individuals who have experienced discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, or age, individuals who have experienced discrimination on the basis of disability have often had no legal recourse to redress such discrimination
(5) individuals with disabilities continually encounter various forms of discrimination, including outright intentional exclusion, the discriminatory effects of architectural, transportation, and communication barriers, overprotective rules and policies, failure to make modifications to existing facilities and practices, exclusionary qualification standards and criteria, segregation, and relegation to lesser services, programs, activities, benefits, jobs, or other opportunities;
(6) census data, national polls, and other studies have documented that people with disabilities, as a group, occupy an inferior status in our society, and are severely disadvantaged socially, vocationally, economically, and educationally;
(7) the Nation’s proper goals regarding individuals with disabilities are to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for such individuals; and
(8) the continuing existence of unfair and unnecessary discrimination and prejudice denies people with disabilities the opportunity to compete on an equal basis and to pursue those opportunities for which our free society is justifiably famous, and costs the United States billions of dollars in unnecessary expenses resulting from dependency and non-productivity. 42 U.S.C. § 12101(a)
According to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, over 55 million Americans have disabilities. This figure is projected to rise as 71.5 million Baby Boomers will be over age 65 by the year 2030.
In order to be protected by the ADA, a person must have a disability, which means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a history or record of such an impairment, or a perception among others as having such an impairment. You can read the entire text of the Act here, http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm.
The government has a video showing the signing ceremony, available here, http://www.ada.gov/videogallery.htm#ADAsigning990.
If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, call an attorney here at Robaina & Kresin, PLLC at 602-682-6450.
Posted in: ADA