The Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25

Posted on Jul 21, 2015

On July 26, 1990 Congress passed legislation known as the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits discrimination against disabled persons. On the day it passed, the bill’s sponsor, Tom Harkin of Iowa (a US Senator at that time), used sign language to say, “People should be judged on the basis of their abilities and not on the basis of their disabilities.”  He did this to benefit his brother who is deaf. Twenty-five years later, the law is more relevant than ever, because while the ADA has accomplished a lot, there is still much work to be done to protect the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

This milestone anniversary is an opportune time to examine how many of the concerns about how the ADA would negatively affect American life never materialized. 

The cost to businesses has been very low. When the law passed many feared that it would be costly for businesses to comply with the Act.  “Not so,” says the US Labor Department. Most disabled workers do not need special accommodations and in those cases where they do, the cost is typically minimal.  In fact, 57 percent of accommodations cost nothing, according to the Job Accommodation Network, (a service of the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy).

The courts have not been flooded with lawsuits. The majority of disputes related to the ADA are settled through mediation or negotiation.

The law is rarely misused. Frivolous claims are quickly exposed and dismissed.

The ADA National Network is encouraging all Americans to become a part of a nationwide celebration and recommitment to the ADA They have a goal of obtaining 25 thousand online signatures for the 25th ADA Anniversary.  We at Cuddigan Law, wish to recognize the contributions the ADA has made to improve the lives of all us by improving the lives of disabled persons.  We encourage you to sign the online pledge of support.

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Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska