Twenty-five years ago today, July 26, 1990, President George HW Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.
The fact that this anniversary is boring and uncontroversial underscores the depth of social changes that ADA exemplified, ratified, and advanced. Aspects of the ADA are costly. The required changes to American physical structures–buildings, sidewalks, roadways, and more–have been significant. (If you wonder how significant, travel to any great old European city and imagine how you would get around if you were mobility-impaired.) No serious politicians speak of repealing and replace ADA. They would be universally condemned if they tried.
So much of American social policy has proven mediocre or mean-spirited. Much remains to be done to help people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric limitations and disabilities achieve full and equal citizenship in American society. Yet today deserves celebration. Americans across the political spectrum have opened their hearts and their wallets to make a better country. In this important area, much was accomplished.