Author: Diane Stewart, Enable Outreach Specialist

July marks the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the midst of barbecues, county fairs and other summer festivities, we encourage everyone to step back and take a moment to acknowledge this monumental piece of legislation, which has not only improved the lives of millions of Americans, but also set the stage for a new era of inclusion.

While we may have grown accustomed to the protections the ADA provides, it was just a short time ago that discrimination based on disabilities wasn’t illegal at the federal level.

All of that changed on July 26, 1990, when the act was ratified.

Today, the ADA provides the roughly 54 million Americans with disabilities equal protections in important areas like housing and employment, helping them live more independent lives. It also includes accessibility requirements for public areas, ensuring that we are all able to enjoy everything that our communities have to offer.

Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. The passage of this bill was made possible through the tireless work of thousands of citizens in the disability community and beyond. Among them were Justin Dart, and Patrisha Wright—both Americans with disabilities who led the charge for equal protections and have been widely credited as driving forces behind the bill’s passage.

Ultimately, the ADA blazed the trail for a new way of thinking, which has begun to reshape the national dialogue surrounding individuals with disabilities. Without this important stride towards acceptance and inclusion, we might not have the ABLE Act today, which allows individuals with disabilities to set aside money in their own savings accounts through plans like Enable Alabama.

As we celebrate the ADA on its anniversary, let’s remember those who made the bill a reality, and look ahead to a future of continued advocacy work. At Enable Alabama, we strive to further the mission of the ADA by helping people with disabilities nationwide grow and maintain the financial resources they need to live full and meaningful lives as active members of their communities.