DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Wellness Wednesday: Looking back at 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Wellness Wednesday: Looking back at 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Courtesy of the ADA National Network (

Signed into law on July 26, 1990, by U.S. President George H.W. Bush, the Americans with Disabilities Act became landmark legislation that broke down barriers for those living with disabilities in the United States. The ADA National Network writes, “The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public."

On this 30th anniversary we are reminded, and celebrate, the civil rights law put into place to ensure individuals with disabilities have the same opportunities as those without. DePaul is committed to providing equal access and reasonable accommodations to all students, faculty and staff. True to our Vincentian mission, we strive to ensure everyone has the same opportunities at DePaul.

Chances are very high you know somebody with a disability. Maybe you identify as having a disability yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the U.S. population has nearly 62 million individuals who identify as having a disability which “affects major life abilities." That's roughly one out of every four people. The more we learn about individuals living with disabilities the better we will be at meeting everyone's  needs.

Much progress has been made in the last 30 years since the passing of the ADA, with additions and refinements to the act coming in 2008. It's important to recognize the act is not just about those with disabilities - it's for society as a whole. An article written in The Conversation by Jean Crockett, a special education professor at the University of Florida states, “... the promise of ADA cannot be fulfilled unless those without disabilities act on its 'clear, strong, consistent and enforceable standards.'" 

There are still countless places , such as  hotels, restaurants, shops and classrooms, that are lacking in accessibility. Private homes are often far from accessible, though do not fall within the enforcement of the ADA. Employment numbers reported by the U.S. Department of Labor show unemployment rates are twice as high for someone identifying as having a disability versus someone who does not.

Studies show minorities with a disability have greater health disparities than those with a disability who do not identify as a minority. With 30 years under our belt, we can recognize the progress made and keep moving forward in a way that is constructive and will benefit every member of society — those with and without disabilities. This should not take away from the fact there is still work to be done. Fairness is not making every step the same height. Fairness is scrapping the steps and constructing a ramp instead.

DePaul's Center for Students with Disabilities has services available to those with diverse physical, learning, medical, mental health and sensory disabilities. The center is the go-to on-campus resource for those looking to support our diverse learning community of both students and faculty. 

DePaul also offers scholarship opportunities to those with disabilities and provides resources in locating and securing both full-time and part-time employment for a population that is typically marginalized. DePaul's Office of Health Promotion and Wellness acknowledges the health challenges and disparities faced by those who have a disability. Our resources are always available. 

Take Care, DePaul!