KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Americans With Disabilities Act Turns 20

Several news outlets note the 20th anniversary Monday of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Detroit Free Press: "Michigan was among the first states in the country to have laws protecting disabled people, and in some areas is stricter than the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the head of Wayne State University's disability law clinic" David Moss. "… In 1976, the state enacted what was called the Michigan Handicappers' Civil Rights Act to require accessibility and outlaw discrimination. ... By the late 1980s, the ADA was a natural next step after an era when many under-recognized groups, including African Americans and women, fought to be acknowledged. The measure, enacted 20 years ago today, also coincided with the national sweep of deinstitutionalization, which had been motivated by the wave of parents of disabled children around the 1940s who wanted to enroll them in public schools" (Meyer, 7/26).

The Washington Post includes a conversation with Obama's top disability adviser. "Kareem Dale is associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and a special assistant to President Obama on disability policy, the first such adviser. He is legally blind and uses a cane when he walks." Dale spoke about the law's impact: "It's been a sea change in 20 years, but we're not done. One of the areas, for example, is when you look at technology. When ADA was passed in 1990, the Web wasn't what it is now and technology wasn't what it is now. The ADA and the law have to pick up with technology" (7/26).

Albert Hunt, in a column for Bloomberg News and The New York Times, says: "This week is the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, one of the country's landmark civil rights measures and the signature domestic achievement of President George H.W. Bush. The A.D.A. mandates equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in employment, access to public facilities, transportation and telecommunications. Although problems persist, particularly in employment, it has transformed the United States, improved the lives of the 50 million people with disabilities (half of them severely disabled) and served as a model for much of the rest of the world. … Look around the globe and the A.D.A.'s impact is evident; it was a catalyst for the 2006 U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, an international accord that requires parties to promote equal rights for and full employment of the disabled" (Hunt, 7/25).

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