33 Years of Advocacy and Progress – Honoring the Americans with Disabilities Act
Progress has been made for individuals with disabilities, but we’re not done advocating.
THE VBP Blog
July 25, 2023 – This week we’re celebrating 33 years of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA, signed into law on July 26, 1990, was a transformative piece of civil rights legislation designed to ensure equal opportunities and prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all spheres of public life.
While there has been plenty of advancement for individuals with disabilities over the last 33 years, we haven’t reached total equality and health equity yet. In this blog, we’re diving into the background of the ADA, advancements that have been made, and the current advocacy efforts still underway.
The Basics of ADA
The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in areas like employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government’ programs and services. This monumental act represented the culmination of years of tireless work by dedicated advocates, legal experts, and policy-makers, all striving to shift societal perspectives and create an inclusive environment for individuals with disabilities. Essentially, the purpose of the civil rights law was to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Over the past three decades, the ADA has profoundly influenced societal norms and attitudes regarding accessibility, paving the way for significant improvements in the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities. However, advocates didn’t stop there. In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law. It became effective on January 1, 2009, and made significant changes to expand the definition of “disability”.
Progress Still Being Made
Despite the enormous strides made possible by the ADA, the struggle for disability rights and full accessibility continues and every day we are seeing progress being made.
For example, we recently saw the Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally Disabled and Underserved Population (HEADs UP) Act of 2023 making progress in Congress. This would direct the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) to designate people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) as a Medically Underserved Population. The HEADS UP Act would expand healthcare resources to make them available to the over 7 million people in the United States have an intellectual or developmental disability.
We’ve also seen long term services and supports (LTSS) and home and community based services (HCBS) expanding across the country. These invaluable services are not designed only for individuals with disabilities, but they do allow them to access the services they need to remain living comfortably at home and in the community.
Despite meaningful advancements in long-term services and supports (LTSS) in the healthcare sector, pronounced disparities persist. Access to comprehensive, high-quality healthcare remains a significant challenge for many individuals with disabilities. This is especially true for those in rural areas where providers and services are fewer. Many individuals also grapple with accessing and affording these vital services. While some coverage exists under Medicare and Medicaid, the ongoing struggle to obtain quality, whole-person care underscores the need for continued advocacy and systemic changes to ensure universal access to healthcare and related services for all, regardless of disability status.
As we commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the ADA, it is important to recognize the work and unwavering commitment of the individuals and groups advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities. At XtraGlobex, as advocates first, our vision aligns with the ADA, which is creating an inclusive society where all person’s abilities and contributions are recognized, respected, and valued. We are dedicated to championing accessibility, equality, and opportunity for all, an integral part of our mission to see the ideals of the ADA realized fully. While the ADA has brought progress and hope in the arena of disability rights over the past 33 years, the work is not done yet. The journey toward complete inclusivity and equality in society and in healthcare continues. As we pay tribute to the ADA’s anniversary, let’s also commit to aspiring and advocating for a society where every individual, irrespective of ability, is valued, respected, and included.
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About the Author
Fady Sahhar brings over 30 years of senior management experience working with major multinational companies including Sara Lee, Mobil Oil, Tenneco Packaging, Pactiv, Progressive Insurance, Transitions Optical, PPG Industries and Essilor (France).
His corporate responsibilities included new product development, strategic planning, marketing management, and global sales. He has developed a number of global communications networks, launched products in over 45 countries, and managed a number of branded patented products.
About the Co-Author
Mandy Sahhar provides experience in digital marketing, event management, and business development. Her background has allowed her to get in on the ground floor of marketing efforts including website design, content marketing, and trade show planning. Through her modern approach, she focuses on bringing businesses into the new digital age of marketing through unique approaches and focused content creation. With a passion for communications, she can bring a fresh perspective to an ever-changing industry. Mandy has an MBA with a marketing concentration from Canisius College.