History Through Deaf Eyes – The Americans with Disabilities Act

“This is the emancipation proclamation for disabled Americans.” ~ Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa
“The National Association of the Deaf, working with key disability advocacy organizations, was instrumental in pushing for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.” ~ Nancy J. Bloch, Executive Director National Association of the Deaf

In July 1990, the broadest legislative bill concerning the civil rights of people with disabilities became law when President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Act made discrimination based on disability illegal in employment, public transportation, public programs, telecommunications, and public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, shopping centers and offices.

Deaf people joined rallies and marches of the disability rights movement that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For deaf people, the law would impact access to the telephone and public events such as festivals, tours, and plays.

Doctor’s appointments and other meetings became more accessible through interpreting services, and captions became a requirement for the television programs, rental videos, and some publicly shown films.

Dr. I. King Jordan speaks at the U.S. Capitol

Dr. I. King Jordan, president of Gallaudet University, speaks on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during a rally held in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Gallaudet University Archives

Many diverse protesters of disabilities marching on the streets holding signs.

Gallaudet University Archives