Since July 26, 1990, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) has protected people with disabilities in public accommodations, essentially prohibiting discrimination by ensuring that individuals are not excluded. With a little math, you might realize that this adds up to 31 years since the landmark legislation was first signed into law.
Although 31 isn’t traditionally a milestone birthday, the ADA – and its mission to provide all people who live with disabilities equal access and opportunity under the law – has enabled a more open, accessible and inclusive world. We think that’s worth celebrating every year.
In honor of this special anniversary, we encourage you to explore the ADA and its profound impact on society. Then, test your knowledge by taking the quiz below.
True or False:
- The ADA’s definition of disability is purposely vague.
This is true. Disability is unique to every person and can manifest as a variety of conditions. As a result, accommodations must also be unique to the individual. By using vague language, the ADA allows for accommodation to occur at an individual level.
- The ADA has evolved since it was first passed.
This is very much true. In 2008, the ADA Amendments Act was the force that broadened the definition of disability and allowed more people to be protected under the act.
- All employers are included in the ADA.
This is actually false. The law applies only to organizations with 15 or more employees. Smaller entities with fewer resources aren’t expected to provide the same level of accommodation as larger employers.
- Disabled people are the only ones covered under the law.
This is also false. The rights of pregnant workers are generally protected by the ADA, too. Although pregnancy is not considered a disability, the act does recognize that pregnancy can require accommodations for conditions such as gestational diabetes, nausea and preeclampsia.
- Accessibility is not necessarily the same as inclusion.
This is true. As the most important disability legislation ever signed in the U.S., the ADA has enabled significant progress in protecting access for individuals with disabilities, but there are always more steps that can be taken. Accessibility refers to accommodations that allow for participation in school, work and the wider community. Inclusion represents a broader vision in which everybody can participate in society equally, with no extra accommodation necessary – and by necessity, it’s addressed by adjusting design and policy upfront.
Happy Birthday ADA! Thank you for providing 31 years of increased opportunity, access and equality. We look forward to continuing the journey toward inclusion for all.