On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. The ADA was a groundbreaking law: in fact, it was “the world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities.” (Archives.gov)

Like civil rights advances that proceeded and followed the ADA, it would not have happened without dedicated, continuous activism from within the disabled community. As activist and disability lawyer Arlene Mayerson wrote:

The ADA story began a long time ago in cities and towns throughout the United States when people with disabilities began to challenge societal barriers that excluded them from their communities, and when parents of children with disabilities began to fight against the exclusion and segregation of their children….The ADA owes its birthright not to any one person, or any few, but to the many thousands of people who make up the disability rights movement – people who have worked for years organizing and attending protests, licking envelopes, sending out alerts, drafting legislation, speaking, testifying, negotiating, lobbying, filing lawsuits, being arrested – doing whatever they could for a cause they believed in.

Arlene Mayerson, “The History of the Americans with Disabilities Act:
A Movement Perspective.” Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Interested in learning more about disability activism? These titles from the Reynolds Library collection are a good place to start:

Simply click on a cover to see that book in the catalog. Want to dig deeper? Browse titles about disability history in the United States, or the biographies of people with disabilities in our catalog.

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