PHILADELPHIA – This Sunday, July 26, 2020, marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) becoming law in the United States. The ADA is federal civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s disability in the areas of employment, access to government services/facilities, and public places, such as stores, restaurants, and stadiums. Mayor Kenney and Koert Wehberg, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, today released statements ahead of the anniversary.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act is among the most impactful pieces of legislation in our nation’s recent history. All Americans—regardless of their ability—deserve to have equal access to and be able to enjoy public spaces and accommodations. They are also entitled to protections against discrimination based on their disabilities. Thanks to the ADA, Americans are guaranteed both under federal law.
“The ADA has allowed millions of Americans with disabilities to access programs, resources and places that help them to develop their talents, hone their skills, live independently, and make critical contributions to society. It has also forced important change within government. It is essential for all elements of government—particularly at the local level—to be able to properly serve all constituents.
“Our Administration joins all members of the disability community in celebrating this milestone anniversary, and we are also reminded of the need to recommit ourselves to addressing the barriers that still remain. We are lucky to have a strong advocate and accomplished professional like Koert Wehberg leading our work to make the City of Philadelphia more accessible for residents with disabilities; we will continue working to improve quality of life for all our residents.”
Koert Wehberg, Executive Director, Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities
“On the occasion of this historic anniversary, we must acknowledge all those disability rights advocates who fought to make the Americans with Disabilities Act a reality. Without their tireless efforts, many members of the disability community would not be where we are today—we would not have had the educational experience we did, hold the jobs we do, or be able to aspire to the futures we now dream are possible. Without the ADA, I myself would not have had the opportunities to enable me to go to school, have a job, own a home, and live alongside disabled and nondisabled residents in the community. We must also celebrate those who continue fighting for disability rights today.
“In 1990, when President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law, people with disabilities were promised ‘a bright new era of equality, freedom and independence.’ And while the Americans with Disabilities Act has resulted in great progress across this country in the 30 years since its signing, we know there is still much work to be done.
“The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is committed to addressing issues that remain for members of our community, including within employment, housing, education, City government, and more. We are here as a resource for all Philadelphians with disabilities, as well as their family members and caregivers. Our goal is not just to meet standards—we strive to make Philadelphia a better city for people with disabilities.”
Residents with disabilities are reminded that they can request a reasonable modification to City programs, services, or activities, submit an ADA grievance, and access additional resources through the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, which is part of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.