The ADA’s Legislative Journey

In 1990, after several rounds of negotiations and hearings, Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and, in doing so, marked a significant advancement for the civil rights of people with disabilities.  In his Signing Statement, President George H.W. Bush said:

[N]ow I sign legislation which takes a sledgehammer to another wall, one which has far too many generations separated Americans with disabilities from the freedom they could glimpse, but not grasp. . . . I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say 'Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.'

The ADA helped bring down this wall by providing comprehensive protections against disability discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodation and services operated by private entities, transportation and telecommunications.


President George H.W. Bush signs the ADA at table with four supporters around him.

President George H.W. Bush signs the ADA at table with four supporters around him.

Core Materials from the 101st Congress

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  • House Report 101-485, H. Rept. 101-485, Part I (Committee on Energy and Commerce); Part II (Committee on Education and Labor), Part III (Committee on Judiciary); and Part IV (Committee on Energy and Commerce), May 15, 1990

  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, H.R.4807 (101st Congress) introduced, May 14, 1990

  • Meeting of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, May 2, 1990, C-SPAN video of opening session--Presidential Address

  •  On the Americans with Disabilities Act, Hearing Before the House Small Business Committee, Feb. 22, 1990, Transcript of Hearing S. 101-45

  • The ADA’s Legislative History - Materials from 1989

  • The ADA’s Legislative History - Materials from 1988

  • Additional Legislative History Materials will be released in Summer 2019.