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The ADA On Its 30th Anniversary: Looking Back And Forward


20th July 2020

The ADA On Its 30th Anniversary: Looking Back And Forward

by Jamie Gold

If you’re a wheelchair user or have other physical conditions that impact your use of public and commercial spaces, July 26 is a date worth celebrating. Thirty years ago today, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act.

So much of what we take for granted in our built environment today – like ramps into buildings, grab bars in restrooms, elevators with Braille buttons and spoken floor numbers – was mandated by that groundbreaking legislation.

Guidelines for builders covered such topics as barrier-free building entries; accessible floor plans, light switch, thermostat and outlet placement, and reinforced walls for grab bars. These are features that benefit many of us, not just those with permanent physical considerations. For example, parents with baby strollers and business travelers with roller bags also benefit from ramps, and the exhausted endurance athlete who just completed a hundred mile trail run can easily appreciate grab bars and a handheld showerhead in the bathroom.

To get a fuller view of how much the ADA has benefited all of us, I reached out to five individuals whose lives and careers have been touched by this legislation. They look back and forward here.

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