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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at 22 -- Groundbreaking Law Celebrated by Rights Advocates

July 26, 2012

News Source: Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) (
Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), perhaps the single most important piece of legislation to improve the lives of people with disabilities, will turn 22 today. The anniversary is particularly poignant for Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), an organization that helped lead the charge for the groundbreaking act back in 1990 and the ADA Amendments [Act] in 2008.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act is one of our nation's most important pieces of civil rights legislation. Its passage marked a major step in a process that is yet unfinished--that is, to make our nation completely barrier-free for all people with disabilities," said Bill Lawson, National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

From delivering curb cuts to tackling employment discrimination, the ADA has had an enormous impact on advancing rights for people with disabilities in the areas of employment, public services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. Paralyzed Veterans also has fought against efforts to weaken the ADA since its enactment. For example, federal courts severely restricted ADA coverage in employment cases. This meant that workers with disabilities were being fired and denied promotion because of their disabilities, only to be told by the courts that they were not disabled under the ADA. The disability community and Congress responded with the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The act restored the protections that Congress had intended in the original legislation: broad protections to cover anyone who faces discrimination because of a disability.

"The ADA is a great example of American leadership and should serve as an inspiration for the world in improving the lives of individuals with disabilities," Lawson said.

The ADA is also a roadmap for expanding rights for all people with disabilities across the world.

"The ADA is a model for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that will help expand accessibility around the world and establish international standards regarding the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities. Expanding access and non-discrimination throughout the world will benefit hundreds of millions of people with disabilities, including American veterans who travel and participate in the global economy. Now is the time for the United States Senate to ratify this important Convention in the same bipartisan manner it passed the ADA 22 years ago."

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