Celebrate the 33rd Anniversary of the ADA

On July 26, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 33. Here are 33 ways to celebrate!

July 26, 2023, marks the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  


The ADA is a civil rights law that affirms and protects the rights of people with disabilities to participate in public life. It forbids discrimination on the basis of disability in the areas of employment, government services, public accommodations, access to transportation, and communications. Under the ADA, employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for applicants or employees with a disability.  


In honor of its 33rd birthday, here’s how we got this landmark law, which continues to be relevant today. 

History of the ADA

  • 1964: The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin 
  • 1973: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federally funded programs 
  • 1977: Hundreds of disability advocates staged sit-ins in federal buildings around the U.S. to protest the failure to enforce Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 
  • 1988: The Fair Housing Act  is expanded to prohibit discrimination in housing based on disability 
  • 1990: The ADA is signed into law by President George H.W. Bush 
  • 2008: The ADA is amended to broaden the definition of a disability 


The ADA was passed 33 years ago, but its history goes back much further than that. While smaller grassroots efforts had been going on for years, by the 1960s, the civil rights movement had brought national attention to barriers in employment, public transportation, and housing. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, but it left out individuals with disabilities.  


The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made some headway when it prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in federally funded programs, but disability advocates called for additional protections to ensure equal opportunities in other areas of public life. 


With the support of individual activists and groups like The Arc, the ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA was later amended in 2008 to protect a broader range of individuals with disabilities. Today, the results of the ADA can be seen in nearly every public space, from curb cuts in sidewalks, to ramps and elevators in buildings and closed captions on TV.  

The next three decades

Although the ADA has made significant strides toward equality for people with disabilities in public life, there’s still a long way to go. People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty and four times more likely to experience homelessness. They experience higher rates of unemployment, and those who are employed earn less than workers who do not have a disability. They also face poorer health outcomes and barriers in access to healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these inequalities, with the virus taking a higher toll on people with disabilities 


As we celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the ADA, we reflect on what the law means for the one in four Americans living with a disability, and recommit to the work that still needs to be done to ensure full inclusion and participation for all people with disabilities.  

33 ways to celebrate the ADA anniversary

Here are 33 ways service providers can celebrate the ADA anniversary: 


1. Download and share the ADA fact sheet 


2. Include information about the history and importance of the ADA in your staff newsletter. Please feel free to copy and paste the information above! 


3. Demonstrate the use of assistive devices such as mobility aids, screen readers, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).  


4. Host an online or in-person panel discussion to understand the impact the ADA has had on the lives of individuals with disabilities. Summarize the feedback and share it with local leaders like the Chamber of Commerce. 


5. Send your staff to ADA training. The ADA National Network offers a variety of training opportunities 


6. If you have a child or younger siblings, talk to them about the ADA. Here is a guide for kids up to grade 5, grades 6-8, and grade 9 and up 


7. Share these ADA cartoons, created by the Northeast ADA Center and Cornell University. 


8. Hold a poster contest, “What The ADA Means To Me”.  


9. Host an art show featuring works by individuals with disabilities.  


10. Join a Twitter chat. The ADA Network hosts quarterly Twitter chats related to the Americans with Disabilities Act at #ADANetworkChat. 


11. Participate in a disability pride parade. You can find one in your area by Googling “disability pride parade + [your city]”. 


12. Organize a TED Talk watch party for your staff. Here’s a list of great TED Talks on accessibility and inclusion 


13. Share what the ADA means to you using the hashtag #ThanksToTheADA. 


14. Tune in to the ADA Live! podcast for a new episode each month.  


15. Conduct a site survey to ensure your facility is accessible, and encourage community partners and local businesses to do the same. The New England ADA Center provides a free ADA checklist for existing facilities.  


16. Survey your website for accessibility using a free tool like the Accessibility Checker 


17. Attend a disability conference or event.  


18. Read a book by an author with a disability 


19. Host a guest blogger to discuss disability inclusion.  


20. Volunteer at an organization that promotes accessibility and inclusion. For example, Habitat for Humanity helps build affordable homes or renovate existing houses to make them more accessible for people with disabilities. 


21. If you believe you or someone else has been discriminated against because of a disability, visit to learn how to file a complaint. 


22. Go on an accessibility scavenger hunt. This worksheet from the Vermont Statewide Independent Living Council is designed for schools, but could be easily adapted to other environments.  


23. Feature the ADA anniversary logo on your website. 


24. Watch a movie about accessibility and inclusion 


25. Tweet or post about the ADA anniversary. Make your content accessible by providing alt-text for images and captions or transcripts for videos.    


26. Host a lunch-and-learn and invite a guest speaker with a disability to talk about their experience with the ADA.  


27. Showcase profiles of employees or clients with disabilities on your social media. 


28. Review the accessibility and inclusivity of your policies and practices using the Section 188 Disability Reference Guide. 


29. Locate your regional ADA Center. The centers provide local assistance, as well as resources for implementing the ADA. 


30. Tune in for a webinar on the history of the ADA.


31. Learn about influential women like Mary Lou Breslin who helped shape the ADA. 


32. Download the disability events calendar to identify other events where you can raise awareness about disabilities and inclusion throughout the year.  


33. If you are a service provider, share these ideas with your staff and community partners to spread the word. 

Download the free Disability Events calendar

There you have it: 33 ways to celebrate the ADA anniversary. Which ones will you choose? For more disability-related events and observances you can participate in all year, download our free Disability Events Calendar. 

Free Resource: 2024 Disability Events Calendar
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