Supporters of the ADA, L to R back row: Kevin Nolan, Gerard J. Buckley, Alfred Sonnenstrahl, E-’87 (PhD), Larry D. Evans, ’64. Front row: Sy Dubow, Karen Peltz Strauss, H-’11, Senator John McCain (AZ), Paul Taylor, Jack R. Gannon, ’59 & H-’88, Dr. I. King Jordan, ’70 & H-’14, and Tim Rarus, ’89.

This Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. This landmark legislation was designed to ensure a more inclusive America, where every person has the right to participate in all aspects of society, including employment.

There is a 230-year history of federal disability policies in the United States. This includes military disability pensions, workers’ compensation insurance, vocational rehabilitation, social security (SSDI and SSI), Section 504, IDEA, the ADA, and others. Prior to the 1970s, all federal policies approached disability as a medical or individual issue. However, with a more visible disability rights movement in the late twentieth century, the nation came to see disability as a social and cultural issue rather than as a problem located in the body.

Many at Gallaudet University advocated for this law, and several of our alumni were present at the signing, including then-executive director of Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. Alfred Sonnenstrahl, E-’87 (PhD); Jack R. Gannon, ’59 & H-’88; Gallaudet University President Dr. I. King Jordan, ’70 & H-’14; Sen. Tom Harkin, H-’91, Justin Dart, H-’93, and Student Body Government President Tim Rarus, ’89. The Deaf President Now movement is credited with helping to push this law forward.

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