DENVER (CBS4) – As the nation mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Former President George H. W. Bush, one of his most impressive legislative accomplishments was the Americans with Disabilities Act. President Bush signed it into law on July 26, 1990.

(credit George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA)

The bill effectively extended civil rights to people living with disabilities. Most significantly it ended discrimination in the workplace for people with disabilities. It also required that public buildings and transportation, as well as some businesses, be equally accessible.

The legislation gained bipartisan support in late 1988 and early 1989. But, there was also strong opposition to the bill. Some religious organizations and business interests called it too costly, referring to the money that would have to be spent to make buildings accessible. Some called the legislations too vague, and predicted it would lead to endless litigation.

LINK: Information on the Americans with Disabilities Act

Shortly before the bill was passed, disability rights activists gathered at the U.S. Capitol building. They dropped their crutches, got out of their wheelchairs and powerchairs, and proceeded to crawl up the Capitol steps, calling for the passage of the bill. Some believe the “Capitol Crawl” of 1990 was a central act in getting the legislation passed.

28 years after being signed into law, the ADA has improved access to public services and the built environment. Buildings are constructed with ADA amenities, crosswalks have curb cuts, and accessible pedestrian signals. People with disabilities still face disparities in employment, earned income, transportation, and healthcare.

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center provides information, guidance, and training on the Americans With Disabilities Act for individuals and organizations in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.


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