ADA Awareness DayJuly 26 is the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act becoming law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The law made sure that those with disabilities maintain the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The act opened the door for equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.
The history of the law dates back to the 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement inspired other movements such as the Women’s Rights Movement and the Disability Rights Movement. Activism among various disability groups can be traced back to the 1800s, however it was a multiple day sit-in that created enough impact for legal change.
In 1977, the disability rights community demanded President Carter sign new regulations for those with disabilities. Instead of signing the regulations, a task force was assigned to review them. The American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities insisted that the regulations be enacted by April 5, 1977 or they would take action. When the date arrived and the regulations still had not been signed, people from across the county protested by sitting-in at federal offices of Health, Education, and Welfare. In San Francisco the sit-in at the Federal Building lasted until April 28, when the regulations were finally signed, unchanged. The regulations provided the ground work for future legislations such as the ADA and others to become law.
Merakey honors and thanks those who inspired change that provided equal opportunity for everyone.