31 Years of The Americans With Disabilities Act:

On this day in 1990, former president George H.W Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act. While this was a milestone for the community, we still have much to improve for disabled people in the United States. Physical accessibility to restaurants, stores, and schools is wonderful. However, ableism and related attitudes set us back more than you might imagine.

People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority. Sixty-one million Americans have a disability that impacts major life activities, according to a report in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published in August of 2018. Disabled people in America and around the globe struggle to find jobs, with the unemployment rate of disabled Americans being 12.6%. For non-disabled people, the unemployment rate was7.9% at the time this report was published. Making matters worse, programs like Medicaid often force disabled people to live in poverty to receive necessary services. So many disabled people do want to work, and can contribute. We need employers to understand that disabilties and abilities are not mutually exclusive.

In recent years, in America, we have come far in the fight for marriage equality. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was a right nationwide. This certainly marked tremendous progress in terms of marriage equality. However, some disabled people who rely on programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income or SSI still cannot marry without their benefits being impacted or taken away entirely.

While the Americans With Disabilities Act was a landmark piece of legislation, we still have so much work to do in the fight for true equality for disabled people in America.


“CDC: 1 in 4 US Adults Live with a Disability.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Aug. 2018, http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0816-disability.html. 

Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 June 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html.

“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2021, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm. 

Star, Eryn. “Marriage Equality Is Still Not a Reality: Disabled People and the Right to Marry.” Advocacy Monitor, National Council on Independent Living, 14 Nov. 2019, advocacymonitor.com/marriage-equality-is-still-not-a-reality-disabled-people-and-the-right-to-marry/.

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