Wellness Wednesday – Looking Back At 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act


Signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, the American with Disabilities Act became landmark legislation that broke down barriers for those living with disabilities in the United States. The ADA National Network writes, “The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” On this 30th Anniversary we are reminded, and celebrate, this civil rights law that was put into place to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunities as those without. The CDC found that the U.S. population has nearly 62 million individuals who identify as having a disability which “impacts major life abilities”. That’s roughly 1 out of every 4 people. Chances are very high that you know somebody with a disability, or maybe you identify as having a disability yourself. The more we learn about individuals living with disabilities the better we will be at meeting their needs. It comes from a place of empathy and understanding – realizing that accessibility might not have a major effect on oneself at this very moment while being mindful of the disparity that is ever-present and working to be inclusive whenever and wherever we can. 

Amazing progress has been made in the last 30 years since the passing of the ADA, with additions and refinements to the act that came in 2008, as well. But it’s important to see that the Americans with Disabilities Act is not just about those with disabilities, it’s for society as a whole. An article written by a Special Education Professor at the University of Florida states, “… the promise of ADA cannot be fulfilled unless those without disabilities act on its “clear, strong, consistent and enforceable standards.” There are still countless places like hotels, restaurants, shops, and classrooms that are lacking in accessibility. Private homes are often far from accessible, though do not fall within the enforcement of the ADA. Employment numbers reported by the U.S. Department of Labor shows unemployment rates twice as high for someone identifying as having a disability versus someone who does not identify as having a disability. Studies show that minorities with a disability have greater health disparities than those with a disability who do not identify as a minority. With 30 years under our belt, we are better able to look at the progress we’ve made and keep moving forward in a way that is constructive and will benefit every member of society – those with disabilities and those without. Though, this should not take away from the fact that there is still work to be done. Fairness is not making every step the same height. Fairness is scrapping the steps and constructing a ramp instead.

DePaul is committed to providing equal access and reasonable accommodations to all students and faculty and strives to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities at the university. The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) has services available to those with diverse physical, learning, medical, mental health, and sensory disabilities; and is the go-to on-campus resource for those looking to support our diverse learning community of both students and faculty. DePaul offers scholarship opportunities to those with disabilities and provides resources in locating and securing both full-time and part-time employment for a population that is typically marginalized. DePaul’s Office of Health Promotion and Wellness acknowledges the health challenges and disparities faced by those who have a disability and want to remind our DePaul community that our resources are always available. 

Take Care, DePaul!








Jones GC, Sinclair LB. (2008). Multiple health disparities among minority adults with mobility limitations: An application of the ICF framework and codes. Disability and Rehabilitation. 30(12‐13):901‐15.

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