Celebrating 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act — which is also known as the ADAwas signed into law 30 years ago today on Thursday, July 26, 1990 by George Herbert Walker Bush, who was the 41st president of the United States; and it is considered to be one of the most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation in the United States which prohibits discrimination while simultaneously guaranteeing that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of life in the United States: to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in programs and services of state and local governments.

Celebrating 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

You can join in on celebrating this special anniversary by participating in some of the suggestions which are mentioned in this video.

“Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin — and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — the ADA is an ‘equal opportunity’ law for people with disabilities”, according to this introduction at the official Internet web site of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice of the United States. “To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.”

Although the initial need was indeed valid, whether the Americans with Disabilities Act has succeeded in achieving its purposes and goals depends on who you ask. Some people believe that it has certainly accomplished beyond its intended purpose — even though a significant amount of work still has yet to be done…

Abuse and Disadvantages of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

…but other people believe that too much of a correction has occurred; and now, the Americans with Disabilities Act allows those with disabilities to have special privileges at the expense of others. As an example, legitimate service dogs serve a known purpose — but allowing these animals in food production areas is unhealthy. Moreover, forcing a hotel or resort property to allow service dogs in every room without any compensation to the property for disinfecting — despite the probability of future guests having potential allergies — is unfair to all other patrons as well as the establishment. The advent of emotional support animals only substantially exacerbated this issue — as well as perpetuated fraud solely to allow guests who simply wanted their pets to travel with them to do so with fewer restrictions at a reduced cost or no cost at all.

Those people also believe that many private businesses have been burdened by altering old facilities to allow ease of access for potential customers at great cost to their own livelihood — even though many of those older buildings are not required to be modified. Furthermore, private businesses are forced to keep going even further in order to accommodate visitors who are legitimately disabled.

Another example is that amusement parks often allow for multiple members of a party to advance to the front of a queue to benefit a disabled guest — and some even offer free tickets for personal care attendants. The abuse of the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines in an educational setting further exacerbates the issue — such when testing accommodations are allowed for those who legitimately need them; but their results are then compared with those of the general population. If one student is given a standardized test which is not timed in a quiet controlled environment with extra instructions and another is given the test in a crowded classroom with strict time procedures, their scores cannot be reported the same in fairness to those who have not asked for special accommodations.

In the travel world, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not seem to cover passengers flying on an airplane — although the House of Representatives of the United States has come up with what some people consider to be the bloated Air Carrier Access Act which seeks to place the rights of a vocal minority at the expense of everyone else around them.


The very idea of assisting the members of society who are with disabilities to functioning more easily while they are doing basic tasks on a daily basis is certainly reasonable. The concept of the Americans with Disabilities Act serves an excellent purpose providing for access to such institutions as government buildings and schools as two of countless examples.

I have long believed in ensuring that the rights of all people — especially those who are disabled or are experiencing a disability — are reconciled along with those of others; that their voices are heard by all other people; and that all people should be treated with respect and given a chance at opportunities.

I have written extensively over the years in the form of articles posted here at The Gate — including pertaining to disabled people and disabilities in general…

Peanuts close up

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…pertaining to food allergies…

KLM Atlanta to Amsterdam dog

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…and pertaining to service dogs and emotional support animals:

All photographs ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen. Source of logo: Americans with Disabilities Act National Network — 1-800-949-4232.

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