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Marking the 24th ADA Anniversary

July 26, 2014
Source: National Constitution Center

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark law made possible by one pioneering activist.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services.

Justin Dart, Jr., a tireless activist and leader of the disability rights movement, had worked for three decades to raise awareness of issue and he was instrumental in helping to pass the ADA. Senator Tom Harkin also worked to get the legislation through Congress.

When it was signed, the ADA was considered to be one of the most sweeping pieces of civil rights legislation since the 1960s. Dart received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nations highest civilian award, in 1998.

After Dart passed away in 2002, Harkin paid tribute to him on the Senate floor.

“Go anywhere in America today and you will see people with disabilities in workplaces, in schools, traveling with their families to restaurants, going to theaters, going to sports arenas. All new buildings have wide doorways, ramps everywhere. No building being built today is not accessible–because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, because of Justin Dart,” Harkin said.

In 2012, the National Constitution Center acquired the wheelchair used by Dart while flanking President Bush when he signed the bill into law. It remains on exhibit today.

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