Today is the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) into United States law by then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is a broad civil rights law guaranteeing certain forms of legal equality and access to people with all types of disabilities and potentially disabling chronic medical conditions. It is not the only disability-rights law in the United States, either prior to or after 1990, but it is one of the broadest and best known that has been a model for similar laws and public policies in several other countries of the world.
In 2008, in the administration of the younger President George W. Bush, following widespread continued advocacy, the ADA Amendments Act was signed. The ADA Amendments Act’s purpose was to restore the original intent of the legislators who had worked with the disability community to develop the provisions of the ADA, by clarifying some definitions that had been improperly eroded by court decisions in the intervening years. Among the clarifications added were that covered disabilities can include those impairing major bodily functions, such as digestion, that they remain covered disabilities even if they are conditions whose effects may come and go episodically, and that they are still covered disabilities even if medications or other measures are available to mitigate its effects. These passages clearly describe many cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Many people with IBS also have commonly overlapping long term health conditions or unrelated disabilities which are also covered under the ADA.
Below are some previous posts from this blog that address the ADA in detail. Though they were written a few years ago, their content is still valid today. It is hoped that readers in the U.S. will peruse them to learn accurate information and resources regarding the law and its use to protect their rights as people with IBS. For readers from all nations, please also read to learn more about the history and philosophical underpinnings of the ADA that provide lessons to all people with IBS on pride, openness, awareness and self-advocacy as a community, and which inform IBS Impact’s efforts as to what is possible with the steadfast commitment of many individuals, groups and organizations over many years.
To those who celebrate a quarter-century of the ADA today, thank you, and may we never forget how far we have come or how far we have left to go.