Statement From ICS President and CEO Regina Martinez-Estela on the 33rd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
We take time to celebrate and reflect on the civil rights law that has changed the lives of people with disabilities across America for the better, while recognizing the challenges that must be addressed moving forward.
July 24, 2023
For immediate release
NEW YORK — On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, affirming the inherent dignity of every individual, regardless of disability. To this day, the ADA remains the largest comprehensive civil rights act since 1964’s Civil Rights Act and offers people with disabilities protections for public accommodation, public service, employment, and telecommunications.
The ADA was and still is a transformational law. It ensures for inclusivity and equal rights for people with disabilities, while making public places and services more accessible than in years past. It is everything, from closed captioning in movie theaters and Access-A-Ride transportation across New York City, to elevators in buildings and employers being held accountable in making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
Of great importance, under the ADA, healthcare entities must provide full and equal access for people with disabilities at facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes. Medical equipment, including examinations tables, lifts and imaging machines, must be accessible. The ADA was a major step forward in ensuring for accessible, equal and quality care for the disability community.
The ADA is symbolic of equal opportunity, independent living and self-sustainability for the millions of people with disabilities across our country. There are, however, still challenges and needed areas of improvement, especially around healthcare.
Despite the ADA and the advances we have made, people with disabilities still face discrimination when trying to access an inaccessible healthcare system. Whether it’s being able to enter a facility as a wheelchair user, or be provided with an accommodation during an appointment, the unique healthcare needs of people with disabilities are not always met, resulting in significantly worse health outcomes than people with no disability, marginalization, exclusion and dismissal.
While today marks an important time to reflect on the civil rights law that has changed the lives of people with disabilities across America for the better, as a society, we need to take additional steps to ensure that healthcare information is in accessible formats, that facilities are physically accessible and that accommodations are available for our most vulnerable population. It is essential that people with disabilities be able to navigate appointments with their physicians and medical professionals, and have accessible, equitable care so they can remain healthy, living their best lives while being able to fully participate in their communities without barriers.
Contact: Chris Engelhardt