On Monday, President Biden and Vice President Harris delivered remarks to honor the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To commemorate this day President Biden signed a proclamation marking the 31st anniversary of the ADA.
“On that day, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, on that day, America became better,” said Vice President Harris.
The ADA, which was first signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability, in contexts such as public accommodation, employment, transportation, and community living and provides recourses for people with disabilities who have faced discrimination.
“When people can ride a bus because it has a lift. When they can enter a building because it has a ramp. When they can watch a movie with closed captions. When a student with a disability, goes to school instead of discrimination gets support, that is the ADA in action,” expressed Harris
The Vice President added that, “The ADA gives all Americans the opportunity to fully participate in our democracy, in our economy, and in our society. The ADA gives all Americans the opportunity to determine their own future.”
In the wake of voting rights and restrictions, the Vice President also took the time to talk about how many individuals with visible and invisible disabilities have made clear they face obstacles when it comes time to cast their ballots at the polls.
“This is about equity and whether or not we are truly committed to the principles of equity in every way that we as government and as a society can enforce those important principles,” stated Harris.
Vice President Harris ensured that she and Biden will “continue to fight” to make America more accessible for everyone. “This work is urgent. And the reason we do it is obviously important because every person in our country deserves the opportunity to dream with ambition to have choices to shape their own future, unencumbered by any barrier, free from any obstacle,” stressed Harris
In attendance also was Tyree Brown, a Christian artist based in North Carolina who revealed she became quadriplegic after a tragic car accident.
Brown thanked Biden and Harris for their immense support for the disabled community. “It is thanks to the ADA, which paved the way for me, with the full support of President Biden. Thank you President Biden and Vice President Harris for advocating for the disability community and celebrating the 31st anniversary of the ADA.”
President Biden took to the stage to talk about the importance of the ADA, while also recognizing the bipartisanship efforts it took to get here.
“This was a Democratic bill signed by a Republican president, a product of passion and compassion. Not partisanship, progress, that wasn’t political, but personal to millions of families,”
Biden added that “The ADA is more than a law as well. It’s a testament to our character as a people, our character as Americans. It’s a triumph of American values. And of course, this law didn’t bring an end to the work we need to do today. Too many Americans still face barriers to freedom and equality. But thanks to this movement that spans all races, beliefs, backgrounds, and generations. We’re once again making progress together.”
In a statement released by the White House, it lays out specific steps the Biden-Harris administration has already taken to achieve a “More inclusive, accessible, and equitable country for people with disabilities.” The White House ensured that the administration is doing everything so that disabled Americans are receiving proper resources and are included in “key administrative proposals”
Let’s take a look at what the Biden-Harris Administration has done so far. They have:
- Centered Equity as a Priority on Day One.
- Increased Access to Democracy for Voters with Disabilities.
- Raised Wages for Federal Contractors to $15, including with respect to workers with disabilities.
- Advanced Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Across the Federal Government.
- Provided Billions of Dollars to Children and Adults with Disabilities. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is the first COVID relief bill to include explicit provisions for people with disabilities.
- The American Rescue Plan provides states with billions in additional Medicaid funding for home- and community-based services (HCBS) for one year.
- The American Rescue Plan also provides direct support to students with disabilities and infants and toddlers with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
- Produced Critical Resources for Americans with Disabilities:
- Expanded Access to Competitive Integrated Employment.
- Supported Economic Self-Sufficiency.
- Reflected on 30 years of Independent Living.
- Leveraged Technology to Support Reengagement with Communities.
- Expanded Opportunities for Accessible, Affordable Housing.
- Provided Guidance on School Reopening for Students with Disabilities.
- Increased Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations and Affirmed the Civil Rights of Americans with Disabilities in Vaccine Distribution.
The White House also laid out plans for Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to have a more, “Competitive, inclusive, and resilient America.” If the plan is enacted, it will provide investments to children and adults with disabilities to achieve things such as independent living, economic self-sufficiency, equitable educational opportunities, and full participation in the workforce and communities.
Now let’s take a look at what the Build Back Better Plan will do. It will:
- Invest in the Caregiving Economy.
- Phase Out of Subminimum Wages.
- Expansion of Inclusive, Accessible Preschool.
- Address Teacher Shortages through the Development of Special Education Teachers.
- Paid Leave that Supports All Families.
In addition to this work, the President also announced his administration will be releasing a package of guidance and resources to support individuals experiencing the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, better known as “long COVID.” The announcements from the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Justice, Education, and Labor provide information about where individuals can access resources and accommodations and clarifies the rights for health and educational services and supports.
The administration’s package includes:
- Guidance explaining that long COVID can be a disability under various Federal civil rights laws.
- Guidance that addresses the needs of children with long COVID who may be children with disabilities.
- Access to resources on disability support services.
- Information about accommodations in the workplace.
In honor of the 31st anniversary of the ADA, Biden makes clear its important to honor all progress that has been made, but to also recognize the work still at hand. “We made important progress, but we still have work to do. We have to keep going to ensure that every single American has a chance to contribute their talents and thrive and succeed.”