National Council on Disability Statement of Recommitment on the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Washington, District of Columbia, UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, the Americans with Disabilities Act—first proposed by the National Council on Disability in 1986 under the leadership of Justin Dart and Lex Frieden and drafted by Robert L. Burgdorf Jr—celebrates its 25th anniversary this Sunday, July 26.

The landmark ADA articulated critical civil rights protections that affirmed the right of people with disabilities to access education as children, to define their goals as adults, and pursue meaningful lives fully engaged with their families and communities as they age. The ADA also marked the dawn of a fundamental shift in the expectations of and for people with disabilities in every area of life:

  • People with disabilities expect and want to have their own families, without the interference and ill effects of fears, myths, and stereotypes of others about disability on their ability to parent. And yet, research shows that parents with disabilities are the only community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children, face significant barriers when attempting to adopt, and have great difficulty accessing reproductive health care, simply because of stereotypes and fears of disability. In 2012, NCD released Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children, in which we explored the pervasive prejudices faced by parents with disabilities by exploring the disparate treatment often encountered by parents with disabilities and their children within court and family service systems and offered draft model state and federal statutory language to correct the discrimination faced by parents with disabilities across the U.S.
  • People with disabilities, including graduating students with disabilities, expect and want to join the American workforce in competitive, integrated employment. In 2012, NCD released Subminimum Wage and Supported Employment, in which we outlined comprehensive systems change that would shift policies and resources away from an antiquated 1930s model of "employment training" that permits certain employers to pay workers with disabilities as little as pennies an hour for their work, and toward meaningful supports that can assist people with disabilities enter integrated, competitive employment in the community.
  • People with disabilities expect and want to live in their homes, not nursing homes or institutions. The 1999 Olmstead decision recognized that it is discrimination to use government funds to perpetuate segregation, particularly when those funds can be used to support people with disabilities in their own homes to participate more fully in all aspects of community life. In 2012, NCD released Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business and accompanying toolkit which provided a practical roadmap for community living and integration. In February 2015, NCD released Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work, and in the Community, in which we detail factors that can make a crucial difference between meaningful integration or segregation in the delivery of home and community based services.

Disability is a natural part of the human experience that should not limit the opportunities for any American to make choices, pursue a meaningful career, live in the community, or to raise our own families. On the eve of the anniversary of the ADA, NCD reaffirms our commitment to these core areas, and remains unwavering in our support of policies that support the goals of the ADA – equality of opportunity, independent living, full participation, and economic self-sufficiency.

About the National Council on Disability (NCD): First established as an advisory Council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD became an independent federal agency in 1984. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. Since enactment of the ADA in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting disability policy, and advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policies, programs, and practices.


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