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General NewsADA’s 25th Anniversary

November 1, 2015

A student with a service dog at Bellevue College

A student with a service dog at Bellevue College

25 years ago Congress passed the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). This important law has helped 55 million Americans with disabilities go to school, get jobs, and move around with independence in their communities.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees them equal access to the same opportunities as all other people have. Disabilities can be physical or mental conditions. They can be temporary or permanent.
Starting with veterans from World War II, activists struggled for years to gain rights for people with disabilities. Finally the ADA was introduced to Congress in 1988. It had some support, but some members feared that the ADA would cost too much for businesses to implement.
After another two years of discussions and testimony from many people with disabilities, George H.W. Bush signed the ADA on July 26, 1990. “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” he said.
Since then, the ADA has helped many people with disabilities gain greater independence. In educational institutions, students with disabilities can bring medical documentation and receive accommodations to attend classes. In the community, many public buildings have ramps and larger doorways. Sound signals at crosswalks help the blind to cross the road. Special equipment helps people in wheelchairs board buses.
The ADA has opened many opportunities, but high unemployment among adults with disabilities remains a concern. Only 17% of people with disabilities have jobs.
Susan Gjolmesli, the Director of the Disability Resource Center at BC, said that the key to future progress of the ADA is a change in old attitudes. People with disabilities aren’t problems, but communities have barriers. As Susan, who is blind, said, “We don’t need to be fixed. We need a barrier free society.”
Developed by Ekaterina Sidorova


Published November 2015

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