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Americans With Disabilities Act

Americans With Disabilities Act

At the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act July 26, 1990, President George Bush stated, "Three weeks ago we celebrated our nation's Independence Day. Today we're here to rejoice in and celebrate another 'Independence Day,' one that is long overdue. With today's signing of the landmark Americans for Disabilities Act, every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom."

The ADA was the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. It was a collaborative effort of Democrats, Republicans, the legislative and the executive branches, federal and state agencies, and people with and without disabilities.

The anniversary of the signing of the ADA is a time that we can reflect positively on a law that has such a positive effect on the lives of people with disabilities and our country. The message within the preamble and history is powerful because it clearly states the congressional intent that the law is intended "to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities."

When President Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act in front of 3,000 people on the White House lawn, the event represented a historic benchmark and a milestone in America's commitment to full and equal opportunity for all of its citizens.

The president's emphatic directive on that day — "Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down," — neatly encapsulated the simple, yet long overdue, message of the ADA: that millions of Americans with disabilities are full-fledged citizens and as such are entitled to legal protections that ensure them equal opportunity and access to the mainstream of American life.

Enactment of the ADA reflects deeply held American ideals that treasure the contributions individuals can make when free from arbitrary, unjust or outmoded societal attitudes and practices that prevent the realization of their potential. The ADA reflects a recognition that the surest path to America's continued vitality, strength and vibrancy is through the full realization of the contributions of all of its citizens.


Teacher Resources:

Prologue: Pieces of History blog


Archival information about the ADA


For more information about the Americans With Disabilities Act, go to http://www.ada.gov/ or visit the National Archives website at http://www.archives.gov/research/americans-with-disabilities/

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