Biden touts the Americans with Disabilities Act

October 2, 2023


President Biden on Monday delivered remarks to celebrate the 33-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Biden started out by extending a “big thanks” to the disabilities activists who’ve worked to “make the country more accessible and more just.”

“History shows, it’s often not the people in power but the power of the people that moves the nation forward—and all of you did,” the President said in a speech on the White House lawn. 

President George H.W. Bush signed the bipartisan ADA on July 26, 1990, saying, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”

The law arose in part out of a report issued in 1986 by the the National Council on Disability, an independent government agency, highlighting the many gaps in federal law that made full participation in society and equal opportunities for employment impossible for many disabled Americans.

The ADA bans discrimination against people with disabilities across a sweeping spectrum, from the workplace to schools to public transit. 

Biden on Monday said the ADA “marked progress that wasn’t political but personal for millions of disabled American veterans and families.”

Noting that more than 61 million Americans are living with disability, he added that “these laws are a source of opportunity, meaningful inclusion, participation, respect—and my dad would say the most important of all: dignity.” 

The President was accompanied by actor Selma Blair and her service dog, Scout. Blair was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2018, and as a result has lost the use of her right eye, left leg and bladder.

“She’s doing so much to change people’s lives,” Biden said of Blair to those gathered, including disabilities activists. “All of you are.”

The President’s remarks Monday came about a week after he noted the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act, of which he was a co-sponsor in one of his first acts as a Senator. It paved the way for the ADA by banning discrimination on the basis of disability by federally funded entities.

During last week’s speech, the President noted that one in four Americans live with disabilities, but they’re “less likely to have a job—and they often earn less for doing the same work.”

He said Monday that his Administration was working with state and local governments to hire more Americans with disabilities, asserting that over the course of his Presidency, there’s been a “22% increase” in the hiring of the disabled across the U.S.

Further, he stated that the Department of Health and Human Services has initiated a policy to prevent doctors and others in the healthcare community from discriminating against offering access to healthcare, including organ donations.

“No American should be deprived of the healthcare they need, period,” said Biden

PHOTO: Biden speech on Americans with Disabilities Act

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