Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of ADA

The City of Portland is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) virtually on July 29, 2020. Learn about the ADA and experiences of people with disabilities in the United States.

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About Americans with Disabilities Act

The 30th anniversary of the ADA is Sunday, July 26, 2020.  It was signed by President George Bush on July 26, 1990. In Oregon and the United States 25.6 percent of people have some type of disability. Each of us may experience a disability in our lifetime.

Learn more about people with disabilities in Oregon from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

25.6% of people have some type of disability both in U.S and Oregon

Timeline of civil rights laws leading to ADA 

1964 — Civil Rights Act: prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, and creed — later, gender was added as a protected class.
1968 — Architectural Barriers Act: prohibits architectural barriers in all federally owned or leased buildings.
1970 — Urban Mass Transit Act: requires that all new mass transit vehicles be equipped with wheelchair lifts. As mentioned earlier, it was twenty years, primarily because of machinations of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), before the part of the law requiring wheelchair lifts was implemented.
1973 — Rehabilitation Act: particularly Title V, Sections 501, 503, and 504, prohibits discrimination in federal programs and services and all other programs or services receiving federal funding.
1975 — Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights Act: among other things, establishes Protection and Advocacy (P & A).
1975 — Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142): requires free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible for children with disabilities. This law is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
1978 — Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act: provides for consumer-controlled centers for independent living.
1983 — Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act: provides for the Client Assistance Program (CAP), an advocacy program for consumers of rehabilitation and independent living services.
1985 — Mental Illness Bill of Rights Act: requires protection and advocacy services (P & A) for people with mental illness.

1988 — Civil Rights Restoration Act: counteracts bad case law by clarifying Congress’ original intention that under the Rehabilitation Act, discrimination in ANY program or service that is a part of an entity receiving federal funding — not just the part which actually and directly receives the funding — is illegal.
1988 — Air Carrier Access Act: prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel and provides for equal access to air transportation services.
1988 — Fair Housing Amendments Act: prohibits discrimination in housing against people with disabilities and families with children. Also provides for architectural accessibility-of certain new housing units, renovation of existing units, and accessibility modifications at the renter’s expense.
1990 — Americans with Disabilities Act: provides comprehensive civil rights protection for people with disabilities; closely modeled after the Civil Rights Act and the Section 504 of Title V of the Rehabilitation Act and its regulations.

Learn more about ADA laws and history

Watch Lives Worth Living documentary 

About the Film 

Lives Worth Living is a documentary of typical conditions for people with disabilities prior to the existence of the ADA and the protests that lead up to its passage. Sharing the preview seems particularly relevant both because July 26, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the law’s passage and because protests are still required to demand change as evidenced by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests over the last several weeks. Although not apparent in the preview or the film, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations with disabilities were significant voices in the protests represented in the documentary.  The intersectionality of the ADA and the BLM protests is substantial. Here are a few resources to learn more:

Watch 2-minute preview of Lives Worth Living

Thank you to Independent Lens for sharing this film.

Historic photo of people with disabilities protesting with signs and flags
Photo by Tom Olin titled "Redirect 25 Percent of Medicaid Dollars from Nursing Homes to Community-Based Services"