JULY 26, 2023

Today marks the 33rd anniversary of a landmark piece of legislation that transformed the lives of millions of Americans—the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On this important occasion, we celebrate not only the passage of this historic act but also the enduring spirit of inclusion, equality, and empowerment that it embodies.

The ADA, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, represented a turning point in the fight for disability rights. It was a testament to the determination of countless advocates, activists, and individuals with disabilities who had long pushed for equal access to education, employment, public spaces, and services. The ADA recognized that disability should not be a barrier to full participation in all aspects of society and sought to eliminate the discrimination that had been pervasive for far too long.

Over the past three decades, the ADA has had a profound impact on the lives of Americans with disabilities. It has opened doors, both literally and figuratively, making public spaces more accessible, ensuring reasonable accommodations in the workplace, and providing opportunities for education and training. The ADA has fostered a culture of inclusivity that extends far beyond legal requirements, promoting the understanding that our differences are a source of strength and diversity.

However, while we celebrate the progress made since the ADA’s enactment, we must also acknowledge that the journey toward full inclusion is ongoing. There are still barriers to be dismantled, stereotypes to be shattered, and disparities to be addressed. Accessible infrastructure, inclusive education, and meaningful employment opportunities remain critical areas of focus.

As we commemorate this 33rd anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to the principles of the ADA. Let us continue to work tirelessly to ensure that every American, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, has an equal chance to pursue their dreams and aspirations. Let us celebrate the accomplishments of individuals with disabilities in all fields of endeavor, from sports and arts to science and business, showcasing their talent and resilience.

The ADA is a testament to the power of legislation to drive social change and to the unwavering commitment of a diverse and united society. As we reflect on the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead, let us remember that the ADA’s true legacy lies not just in its text but in the hearts and minds of those who champion the rights and dignity of all individuals.

On this 33rd anniversary, let us renew our dedication to building a world that truly embraces diversity, where every person, regardless of their abilities, is recognized, respected, and empowered to contribute to the rich tapestry of our nation. We can live up to the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Olmstead mandate by confronting the systemic inequities that prohibit Poor, Disabled, Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), older adults, undocumented people and trans folks from community living. Today, though, we celebrate community living and all of those who have been liberated from institutional settings. We must continue to call out the harmful and exclusionary barriers that perpetuate institutional bias and deny individuals the right to live in the community. 

MHEP calls on Governor Hochul to implement the recommendations of the State’s Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council (MISCC). Additionally, MHEP calls on Congress to codify the right for Americans with disabilities to live in freedom.