30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act Commemorates Work Done and More Progress Needed

Since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990, the law has required that people with disabilities have equal access to services and accommodations. From building ramps to the prohibition of job discrimination against people with disabilities, the legislation and its amendments have been in place to ensure all professionals are treated fairly.

Sunday, July 26, marked  the 30th anniversary of the passing of the ADA, a landmark civil rights legislation that was originally signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

“The struggles for access to health care and inclusion that people with disabilities face must be addressed—public health is for everyone,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D., said in a news release. “We encourage all Americans to join us in strengthening and building a healthier and more inclusive Nation.”

The ADA “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” It also provides protections for equal access to state and local government services.

In 2009, the law expanded with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) which broadened the definition of a disability. Lawmakers overturned a series of Supreme Court decisions that interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in a way that made it difficult to prove that an impairment is a “disability.”

However, there’s still more progress to be seen. For example, the law does not provide funding for services or accommodations for people with disabilities.

In honor of the anniversary, take a look at more resources regarding best practices for managing and working with people with disabilities:

7 Things Never to Say to People With Disabilities

We’ve all heard them—culturally insensitive terms such as “handicapped,” “retarded,” and “slow” used to refer to people with disabilities. While the use of those terms or the offense they can lead to might not be intentional, it doesn’t make the words less hurtful or detrimental in the workplace. Some communications and office relations snafus are avoidable. While there are things to be sure to never say to people with disabilities, there are also things to say to better manage and work with people with disabilities. A few good tips can help any manager strengthen competency and communications skills in the workplace. Check out more here.

Helpful Tips on What To Say

The key to interacting with a colleague who has a disability is to interact with the person, not the disability, particularly if you’re meeting the colleague for the first time. It’s best to give them time to learn something about their coworkers. Ask the employee how they like their new job or even offer suggestions for restaurants to eat at during lunch. It’s about putting the person before the disability.

A useful tip for managers is to not assume that employees with disabilities need help, and instead to say, “You may not need any help, but please don’t hesitate to ask me if you do.” Find out more helpful tips here.

The ADA: A History

A lot has changed and improved within the ADA legislation since the first signing in 1990, but there’s still more work to be done. Further efforts in the realm of competency and communication can be made today to continue the conversation about sustainable inclusion and advancement. Check out more insights on this here.

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