Washington, DC – The Arc of the United States today celebrates the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights law was created to eliminate discrimination against people based on their disabilities.
“Today serves as a reminder to us of not only how far we have come in the last 21 years, but of how much there is still left to do,” said Peter V. Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc. “The ADA has empowered millions of individuals with disabilities over the last two decades, yet there is still much discrimination facing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This anniversary should serve as a call to action – our work will not be complete until there is full inclusion and equality for individuals with disabilities.”
The ADA protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, privately operated public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, stores, museums, etc.), transportation, and telecommunications. A person with a disability, as defined by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major bodily functions or major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is regarded as having an impairment.
The ADA’s integration mandate has helped many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) leave institutions and move to community based settings. However, there are still many individuals living in nursing homes and other types of institutional settings who could and who want to live in more integrated settings.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.