Disability Pride: Celebrating 32 Years of the ADA

“Disability Pride: Celebrating 32 Years of the ADA”

On Thursday, July 28, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) celebrated Disability Pride Month and the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during a special live virtual event. Featuring Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and hosted by Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams, the event explored DOL’s efforts to deliver on the promise of the ADA through policies and programs for workers and job seekers with disabilities.

Additional presenters included:

  • Tiffany Boiman, Acting Deputy Director, Women’s Bureau
  • Ali Khawar, Acting Assistant Secretary, Employee Benefits Security Administration
  • Jessica Looman, Acting Administrator, Wage and Hour Division
  • Katelyn Walker Mooney, Director, Good Jobs Initiative
  • Jenny Yang, Director, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs

As we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, DOL reflects on its efforts to build more equitable and inclusive workplaces. Over the last year, DOL worked to increase hiring and retention of individuals with disabilities in competitive integrated employment, focused on an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, conducted research to better understand equity issues in disability employment, strengthened enforcement, and developed resources to promote good jobs for Americans with disabilities, including those with mental health conditions. Read highlights of the extensive work accomplished this fiscal year.

The ADA and ODEP

The ADA underpins and inspires all of ODEP's work. Through policy development, outreach and education, and technical assistance, ODEP assists both workers with disabilities and employers in understanding their protections and obligations under the law.

Through its Job Accommodation Network (JAN), ODEP provides extensive technical assistance on the reasonable accommodations provision of the ADA. Covered employers are required to provide "reasonable accommodations" to qualified job applicants and employees with disabilities. Job Accommodation Network (JANThis is defined as any change or adjustment to a job, work environment, or the way things are usually done that would allow an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other employees. JAN provides expert guidance, training, and resources to individuals and employers on all aspects of accommodations at no cost. Also available are JAN publications on the ADA and related laws.

Note that in the years following the ADA's passage, some courts had narrowed the definition of disability under the ADA. To address this, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) in 2008, clarifying various aspects of the law and emphasizing that the definition of disability should be interpreted broadly. Coordinating, monitoring, and enforcing the ADA and ADAAA is the responsibility of a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Education, and the Department of Labor, among others.

Additional Resources on the ADA and ADAAA