ADA Anniversary: Promoting the Sspirit of the Law After 32 years

Man with a disability sitting at a picnic table outdoors looking at his laptop

The 32-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is July 26. Will you celebrate? At AbleLight, we’re recognizing and promoting the anniversary and here’s why.

The ADA formally protects people with disabilities from discrimination and allows people with disabilities to be included within their communities, in all aspects of public life. It promotes equal access to:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • State and local government
  • Public accommodation
  • And more

You may think that 32 years is an odd anniversary to celebrate. It isn’t a milestone. It’s old news, right? At AbleLight, we recognize and celebrate the anniversary of the ADA every year because we believe in inclusion for people with developmental disabilities.

We also see, on a daily basis, plenty of work that still needs to be done.

Fighting to end discrimination

The ADA was a landmark law focused on breaking down barriers and promoting inclusion. While the law is in place, protection from discrimination doesn’t automatically put an end to discrimination. The ADA provided a legal framework for fighting discrimination in employment, public access and more, yet people with disabilities still experience discrimination.

As long as the people we serve and others with disabilities need to challenge discriminatory practices, we will work to keep the ADA top of mind for all. Until we no longer need to invoke the ADA to request equal access or reasonable accommodations in health care, services, funding, or access, we will continue to highlight, celebrate, and remind others about the ADA and the amazing world we experience when we include all abilities.

Spirit of the ADA

Simple compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act will never be enough. The spirit of the ADA is much broader and more inclusive. It was bipartisan legislation, meaning that the two primary parties of the U.S. Government worked together to pass the law, and they agreed on some lofty ideals. Equal opportunity, independent living, self-sufficiency, and full participation within our communities was the bigger goal of the ADA. And we’re not there yet.

The letter of the law helps people with disabilities through the door. It affords them equal access and we’re making great strides. The spirit of the law, inviting people with developmental disabilities into our lives, including them in our communities and becoming friends and neighbors is ultimately where we need to be.

It’s not enough to make our buildings accessible. It’s a good start, but we can’t just check the box and say we’re done. The spirit of the law pushes us to do better, to continually evolve and improve. At AbleLight, we keep working to include people of all abilities and we track our progress against the ADA anniversary, like a mile marker along our path.

This is why we celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act every year. It’s the mile marker that commemorates our progress against the passage of time. We’re at mile marker 32 this year and we’re looking forward to tracking our progress for as many years as it takes.