The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law on July 26, 1990, brought our nation closer to the promise of equal rights for all. This landmark legislation enshrined into law equal access and protection from discrimination for people with disabilities. Passed by a bipartisan Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush, the Americans with Disabilities Act banned discrimination in employment and ensured equal access to public services and accommodations, telecommunications and transportation.
Enactment of the ADA was a hard-won victory and, like so many other struggles for justice in American history, it was made possible by the bold actions of Californians. Decades prior to the ADA’s passage, disability activists like Ed Roberts fought for the right to live independently at the University of California, Berkeley; and Congressman Tony Coelho, a Central Valley native, sponsored the ADA in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Today, thirty years since the ADA literally opened doors for people with disabilities, this community is making its mark in every sector of American life. Those who call California home make significant contributions to the diversity, prosperity and vitality of our state. They remind us that disability is a natural part of the human experience that in no way diminishes the rights of individuals to live independently, enjoy self-determination, make choices, contribute to society, pursue meaningful careers and enjoy full inclusion and integration.
Despite this progress, people with disabilities still face stubborn disparities in education and employment. That is why we must recommit to ensuring that our communities are accessible and inclusive, and that no barriers keep people with disabilities from achieving their dreams.
On this thirtieth anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, let us recommit to building a California that promotes independence and equality for all.