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

  • The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is an ODEP technical assistance center that provides resources to help employers recruit, hire, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities and comply with their responsibilities under the ADA.
  • The ODEP-funded Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) promotes the employment of people with disabilities through the development, adoption, and promotion of accessible technology policy. 
  • A Guide to Disability Rights Laws, published by the U.S. Department of Justice, is a user-friendly guide to the ADA and related disability rights legislation.
  • ADA.gov has information, resources and technical assistance materials on all aspects of the ADA and ADAAA, with links to the various agencies that have enforcement responsibilities.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the agency responsible for administering the ADA's employment provisions and they provide regulatory guidance and technical assistance on all aspects of the ADA and employment.
  • The ADA National Network is a federally-funded network of 10 regional centers offering businesses, government agencies, and individuals information, guidance, and training on the ADA.
  • Frequently Asked Questions about the ADA provides answers to questions relating to the definition of disability under the ADA; what employers need to know; and what a reasonable accommodation is.
  • A Primer for State and Local Governments explains the nondiscrimination requirements of the ADA, in particular as they relate to Title II of the ADA. Title II applies to all State and local governments and all departments, agencies, special purpose districts, and other instrumentalities of State or local government ("public entities").
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA explains the ADA definition of a "service animal," rules related to their use, and other common questions related to service animals.
  • ADA Basics provides answers to basic questions about the ADA, including those related to employment.