Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act on the 31st Anniversary
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law on July 26, 1990, following years of advocacy by the disability community, advocates, and allies.
While tremendous wins have been achieved over the past three decades, the work to ensure access to and integration in the community, jobs, housing, and healthcare continues in every state in this country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated what was already known: nursing homes can be dangerous settings for people with disabilities and underfunded Medicaid programs have forced too many into congregate settings.
Medical rationing and emergency planning policies continue to discriminate against people with disabilities and threaten to give their personal ventilators to others deemed more likely to survive. As our country reopens its economy, people with disabilities must not be an afterthought in reopening plans as we create a “new normal”.
- In Michigan, people with disabilities have been prevented from hiring and retaining home-based care workers. Our Sixth Circuit victory extended the ADA “integration mandate” that protects the rights of disabled people to get care in the most integrated setting according to their needs. This case highlights the illegal and unjustified isolation of people with disabilities.
- In Louisiana, Medicaid-eligible youth with mental health or behavioral needs are denied critical community and social services. NCLEJ partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Health Law Program, Disability Rights Louisiana, and O’Melveny & Myers LLP to ensure youth with mental health needs get emergency mental health treatment and crisis intervention services.
- In New York, policies around medical rationing of ventilators put people with disabilities in precarious positions. Many states have updated their regulations to combat discriminatory medical rationing. Yet in New York State, many in the community risk having their personal ventilators taken away from them when in hospitals. The current guidelines are discriminatory, dangerous, unfair, and devalue the lives of people with disabilities. NCLEJ is calling out the SOFA scoring system that is used to assess hospital patients’ likelihood of survival and allocate equipment, including personal equipment, that undervalues the lives and dignity of people with disabilities.
- Across the country, people with disabilities face barriers to accessing health care and food aid. NCLEJ currently works in Georgia, New York, and Tennessee to ensure state agencies make reasonable accommodations when people with disabilities apply for or renew public benefits like Medicaid and food stamps.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wanted to do away with guidelines to house people with disabilities in integrated settings, effectively segregating disabled people from non-disabled communities and family members. NCLEJ advocated to ensure integrated settings allowing people with disabilities to maintain their independence and well-being
The ADA was designed to eliminate discrimination against disabled people and create clear, consistent anti-discrimination standards. It is the legal backbone that we lean on to challenge systemic discrimination.
On this 31st anniversary, we celebrate and we move forward, knowing what’s at stake.