The ADA turns 28 today.  

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 28 years ago today by President George H.W. Bush.  (Remember when we used to have presidents who believed people with disabilities were worthy of respect and protection rather than ridicule?)

Since 1990 the Act has provided people with disabilities protections from discrimination at work and access to the reasonable accommodations they need to do their jobs.  Simply put, the ADA helps keep people employed.

Below are five reasons we love the ADA:

  1. The ADA prohibits employers from firing or otherwise discriminating against someone because they are disabled.
  2. It protects people with permanent and temporary disabilities like diabetes and/or cancer.
  3. It includes disabilities you might not think of and cannot see, like mental health conditions or infertility.
  4. The ADA requires employers to engage in dialogue (called the interactive process) with their employees about what help (accommodations) they may need to do their jobs.  This required common-sense exchange can help avoid many problems and misunderstandings.
  5. It prohibits employers from subjecting applicants and employees to unnecessary medical inquiries or examinations.  In other words, in most positions employers cannot ask employees about their mental or physical health.

In celebrating of the ADA, I want to highlight two organizations that do great work for disabled employees’ rights:

The Job Accommodation Network is a wonderful resource for employees who need ideas for accommodations or help getting those accommodations.  This organization is, literally, an endless well of information and one of my favorite.

Equip for Equality is an Illinois organization that works tirelessly for the rights of disabled people.  They have a ton of resources on their website.