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“Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
—President George H. W. Bush, Sr.

On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. This monumental law established civil rights for disabled people across the United States. Prior to the ADA, discrimination against people with disabilities could occur without consequence in all spaces except those receiving federal funding. The ADA provided the foundation necessary to establish guidelines for how to create accessible spaces—public and private—for all people participating in our society, and how to provide accommodations for those spaces that remain inaccessible.

We enter 2020 celebrating 30 years of accomplishments and barrier breaking supported by the ADA, while also knowing that there is still much to do to ensure that disabled people may participate in and belong to all aspects of our society. To celebrate this anniversary, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) will be sharing tidbits throughout the year on social media, using both the #AccessibleAnthro and #ADA30 hashtags. Please join AAA in our efforts to continue dismantling the walls of exclusion that still exist in our discipline. Below are some actions you may take.

  • Share information about AAA’s accessibility initiatives.
  • Suggest accessible practices to incorporate into our daily lives to friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Encourage your departments, schools, and other organizations to actively embrace and provide accessible practices.
  • Engage in conversations about accessibility, especially with disabled people and people with disabilities.
  • Change your classroom, presentation, office, and other practices and procedures to be more inclusive.

Celebrate #ADA30 by taking actions that will intentionally support access, lessen the exclusion of all people with disabilities, and increase access to our community for all anthropologists.

This essay was originally published in the January/February 2020 print issue of Anthropology News.

Nell Koneczny is the AAA accessibility and meetings coordinator.

Cite as: Koneczny, Nell. 2020. “Celebrating 30 Years of the ADA.” Anthropology News website, July 7, 2020. DOI: 10.14506/AN.1455