National Disability Independence Day in the United States Date in the current year: July 26, 2024

National Disability Independence Day in the United States National Disability Independence Day is observed annually on July 26 to commemorate the signing of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) that prohibits discrimination based on disability, protecting Americans with disabilities the same way other laws protect against discrimination based on race, religion, sex, etc.

According to statistics, people with disabilities make up about 20% of the overall population of the United States; over half of Americans aged 80 or older have a disability. Disability can be caused by a wide range of physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, developmental, and sensory impairments. Some disabilities are immediately apparent, whereas others are not. The latter are referred to as invisible disabilities; they can affect a person’s life as much as visible ones.

For a long time, Americans with disabilities weren’t protected against discrimination or entitled to reasonable accommodations at their place of study or employment. The situation began to change thanks to the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. It started as a movement for the rights of African Americans and grew to include other discriminated people and groups such as people with disabilities.

One of the first accessibility laws was the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 that requires facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with funds provided by the US Federal Government to be accessible to the public. Major anti-discrimination legislation enacted in the following decades included the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

However, it was the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that became a milestone for the disabled community in the United States. It lists physical and mental medical conditions that cause disabilities, protects people with disabilities from employment discrimination, and guarantees better access to education, employment, transportation, communications, services, and goods for people with disabilities.

To highlight the significance of the ADA for the disabled community and raise awareness of the importance of accessibility and inclusion, the anniversary of the act is celebrated as National Disability Independence Day every July 26. How can you observe it? If you’re not disabled yourself and don’t have family members or friends with a disability, this is the perfect occasion to educate yourself about the challenges that people with disabilities face on a daily basis and the importance of accessibility.

If you’re a business owner, evaluate the accessibility of your business for customers and employees — keeping in mind that not all disabilities are visible — and make improvements if necessary. If you have a disability, give a shout out to accessible organizations and businesses on social media and spread awareness about the importance of accessibility by sharing your story with the hashtag #DisabilityIndependenceDay.

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National Disability Independence Day, observances in the United States, Americans with Disabilities Act, accessibility and inclusion