Twenty-one years ago, the United States became the first country to adopt national civil rights legislation, unequivocally banning discrimination against people with disabilities in the public and private sectors. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was remarkable not only because of its groundbreaking provisions, but also because it was developed with the extensive participation of disability organizations, bi-partisan champions from the House and Senate, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the business community and widespread support from civil society. This was the first occasion that cross-disability organizations had worked collaboratively to advance a common cause. Since that time, the ADA has had a profound impact both at home and abroad. Here in the United States, the ADA, in tandem with other disability legislation, has been utilized to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in all areas of life.
Abroad, the success of the ADA has encouraged many other nations to adopt their own domestic non-discrimination legislation, moving away from more traditional charity or welfare approaches to disability and empowering people with disabilities to claim their rightful place in society. Internationally, the ADA has been cited as one of the inspirations for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). In keeping with the drafting of the ADA, the CRPD incorporates the same principles of equality and non-discrimination.
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