Reaffirming the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act

"Twenty-three years ago today, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which President George H.W. Bush signed into law. Its implementation deepened a firmly held belief in our country that all Americans should be able to succeed and thrive, including Americans living with disabilities.  For many Americans, this signified a new era where those with disabilities could now participate fully in all aspects of American life.

"While this first step was a major accomplishment, there is still much more to do to ensure full equality for those living with disabilities. During my time in Congress we have passed, and President Obama has signed, several important laws that build on this goal of equal opportunity for all. By signing into law the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act and the reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act, the President put a priority on increasing access to health care.  The Affordable Care Act was a major victory for Americans with disabilities-- ensuring that insurance companies cannot discriminate against patients on the basis of pre-existing conditions or implement caps on lifetime benefits. We have made it clear that in the United States, being born with a disability cannot be used as a road block to affordable health care.

"I stand with President Obama and his administration in our commitment to increase employment opportunities, expand education and protect civil rights for people with disabilities. The President issued an Executive Order requiring agencies to create hiring plans and hold those agencies accountable for hiring Americans with disabilities. Agencies have embraced these new standards. The Departments of Labor and Defense, in 2011, created the Workforce Recruitment Program Database to help college students and recent graduates with disabilities find jobs in the public and private sectors. The U.S. Department of Education allocated $20 million in grants to help schools and educational institutions improve services and results for students with disabilities.

"We have made great progress since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990, but we can always do more. We must continue to advocate for change until Americans with disabilities no longer face any roadblocks. While today we celebrate the historic anniversary of the ADA and the progress we’ve made, it is our responsibility to live up to the promise of the ADA and push further for equality of opportunity for all."