Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

News Release

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao Commemorates 16th
Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today applauded the success of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in helping tear down barriers to equality for disabled Americans.

"Sixteen years ago, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act to remove barriers that made much of our society inaccessible to millions of people with disabilities," said Secretary Chao. "In his first month in office, President George W. Bush launched the New Freedom Initiative to make our society more inclusive of persons with disabilities so they can access better employment opportunities, and America can benefit from their talents."

On February 1, 2001, President Bush initiated his New Freedom Initiative (NFI) to fulfill America's promise to persons with disabilities of a more inclusive society and a better quality of life. The NFI is a government-wide initiative involving many agencies within the Executive Branch.

The Department of Labor (DOL) plays an important role in ensuring that people with disabilities have greater employment opportunities through its Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). For example, since October 2000 DOL has been improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities by enhancing DOL's One-Stop Career Center services. Some of those efforts include providing assistive technology, conduct accessibility reviews, training of One-Stop Career Center staff, developing resource guides and other tools to assist the employment of people with disabilities, and employing disability resource specialists. DOL also is building a pipeline to economic self-sufficiency through its Employer Assistance and Recruitment Network (EARN). Employers interested in hiring talented or skilled employees with disabilities can consult the Employer Assistance and Recruiting Network, a free DOL service available at

DOL and the Department of Defense created the REALifelines Program to assist returning vets. The Recovery and Employment Assistance Lifelines (REALifelines) involves a personalized assistance network to ensure that seriously wounded and injured service members who cannot return to active duty are trained for rewarding new careers in the private sector. Visit for more information.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Office of Disability Employment Policy
July 26, 2006
Release Number