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The Americans with Disabilities Act

July is Disability Pride Month because we celebrate the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. We also celebrate the many activists that helped get the ADA passed.

This historic act was a game changer for disabled people, but it didn’t come easy! It tooks years of disabled people challenging societal norms. The activists groups date back to the 1800s. Remember in the previous blog, we discussed the ugly laws and that was only one way the disability community was discriminated against.

During the Great Depression, the league of the physically handicapped fought for employment for people with disabilities.

Then in 1950, the Arc of the United States was founded. It had a different more offensive name up until 1992. The Arc was started by parents who were tired of their children being excluded because of their intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since the group has started, they have helped advocate for much change within the community from public education, Medicare and Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income programs, housing, and even the ADA.

In 1973, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act became the first disability civil rights law to be passed in the United States. It made it so that, for the first time, the exclusion and segregation of people with disabilities was seen as discrimination. It was also the first time that disabled people were seen as a minority group. Before this, people’s mindset was that the problems disabled people faced were because of their physical or mental disability. Section 504 helped to change that mindset by allowing people to realize that discrimination of disabled people, was a result of societal barriers and prejudice, and not the disability itself.

In 1975, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formally known by another name, guaranteed children with disabilities the right to a public school education. Before IDEA, many children with certain disabilities were excluded from public school. Those who did attend school were put in segregated facilities or they were in state institutions that received little or even no education.

In 1988, the first version of the ADA was introduced. A national campaign was started where disabled people were asked to write discrimination diaries. People with disabilities documented daily instances of inaccessibility and discrimination to raise awareness on the barriers they faced in their every day life, and to provide evidence for why the ADA should be passed.

On March 13, 1990 the Capitol Crawl took place. People marched from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, and once there they climbed the stairs and demanded that the ADA be passed. Those with mobility aids had to set them aside and crawl up the steps serving as more evidence of how inaccessibility impacts disabled people. This demonstration worked because not long after, the ADA was put into law.

On July 26, 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. The ADA protects disabled people from discrimination in all areas of public life. This includes employment, public entities and public transformation, public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications, and provisions.

This was a pivotal change in the disability rights movement because finally disabled people were being included and seen. Things you probably don’t even think of changed so disabled people could enjoy daily every living. Train stations added ramps, accessible seating, and elevators. Curb cuts were put onto street sidewalks. Parking lots had to include disabled parking spots. Buildings had to have accessible entrances. But even with these changes, there still were barriers and are barriers today.

The ADA is the bare minimum because our built world is only selectively accessible. Not all train stations are accessible, not all public bathrooms are accessible, and many don’t cater to the deaf or blind. The ADA, though great, has yet to be fully applied and many disabled people don’t even feel seen by this law.

Jim Lebrecht, Director of Crip Camp, said it best, “The ADA is a floor. It’s not a ceiling.”

Disability rights are basic human rights!

We deserve to have access and enjoy the public just like everyone else and until we’re all included, there will be people with disabilities who cannot fully participate in their communities.

The ADA was a great step, but there’s still room for improvement and growth.

The next time you notice inaccessibility, speak up about it! Let someone know! You never know who you just advocated for!

Happy 33 Years to the ADA and Happy Disability Pride Month!!

Follow @SHOPLLOFFICIAL & @ASHLEYLLORENS16 for more info and disability education! Check out more of our blogs too!


The History of the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Movement Perspective


The ADA Explained


How the ADA Changed The Built World


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