Celebrating 33 Years of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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Celebrating 33 Years of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

July 26, 2023, marks 33 years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was signed into law to ensure people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. We’ve come a long way since before the signing of the ADA, but DRC and the disability community continue to fight for the rights of individuals with disabilities. DRC values all forms of diversity, and we are committed to a culture of belonging where all people are welcome.

Today, we understand that disability rights are part of a broader fight for justice including the unique challenges faced by people who experience the intersection of multiple systems of discrimination. It’s important we recognize these intersectional identities and everyone’s inherent right to freedom, independence, and self-determination.  

We celebrate this landmark bill and encourage all of us to reflect on what the ADA means to us and what efforts are still needed for civil rights and equality for all.

We mark this month to celebrate and remember how far we’ve come. 

Let’s Celebrate & Continue the Conversations on Disability Justice for All!

The passage of the ADA 33 years ago is cause for celebration!  Besides learning more about the history of the ADA, here are some ways we can celebrate this bill which has improved the lives of so many.

For Individuals:

Know your rights!

Get to know your rights and the rights of your friends, family members, and community members who live with disabilities by checking out DRC’s Self-Advocacy Resources.

Learn more from one of DRC’s free webinars discussing various disability topics: https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/events

Spread the word on Social Media!

Tag us in a social media post and use the hashtags #ThanksToTheADA and #ADA33:

Share why you’re thankful for the ADA! Share a moment in your life when you were thankful for the ADA, and/or how we as a community can continue the conversations on equality and civil rights.

Keep the fight for intersectional civil rights going!

Learn about being an LGBTQIA+ ally and get tips on how to be anti-racist to make sure that our broader fight for disability rights is inclusive of people who may have intersectional identities. 

For Business:

Review Diversity & Inclusion Statements/Mission

Take a look at how you talk about disability in your workplace. Think about inclusivity of all.

Review the Diversity Page on your Website

Review your webpage and assess how you talk about people with disabilities. Do you feature employees with disabilities in comments, or videos?

Learn More About the History of the ADA

May 4, 1977

Section 504 regulations were issued, which formed the basis of the ADA. Section 504 regulations were established, recognizing the economic status of people with disabilities was not due to the disability itself, but was instead due to prejudices and barriers.


The National Council on Disability issued a report, Toward Independence, which recommended comprehensive civil rights legislation, leading the way for the ADA.


After much work, various drafts of legislation, and overcoming significant opposition from various groups – including religious and business interests – Senator Tom Harkin authored the final bill.

On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA into law, stating “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” 


The Olmstead Act, or Olmstead v. LC Supreme Court decision, was based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court held that people with disabilities have a qualified right to receive state funded supports and services in the community rather than institutions. For more information, visit https://www.olmsteadrights.org/.


The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 was signed into law by President George W. Bush. These amendments broadened the meaning of the term “disability” so that the ADA could be used to offer civil rights protections to more people.

Resources - An icon of an open book

You can also learn more with some of these resources: