Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act
By the President of the United State of America
July 26, 2013
Since our earliest days, America has measured its progress not only by the growth of our borders and the breadth of our economy, but also by how far we reach toward fully realizing the fundamental rights, protections, and freedoms afforded to each of us by our Nation's founding documents. For generations, many Americans with disabilities lived as second-class citizens who were denied those most basic opportunities. Not content to accept the world as it was, they marched and organized and testified, coupling quiet acts of persistence and perseverance with vocal acts of advocacy. And step by step, progress was won. Protections were put into law. And a wave of change swept across our country, tearing down the barriers that kept persons with disabilities from securing their fullest measure of happiness.
Today, we mark the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) -- a historic piece of civil rights legislation that affirmed Americans with disabilities are Americans first. When many wrongfully doubted that people with disabilities could participate in our society, contribute to our economy, or support their families, the ADA asserted that they could. Under this landmark law, America became the first Nation to comprehensively declare equality for its citizens with disabilities -- an accomplishment that continues to guide our country toward fulfilling its most essential promises not just for some, but for all.
Yet, despite the gains we have made, independence and freedom from discrimination remain out of reach for too many individuals with disabilities. That is why my Administration continues to build on the legacy set forth by the ADA. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with disabilities because of pre-existing conditions, medical history, or genetic information -- a provision that will be extended to all Americans in 2014. We have fought to protect and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid by improving benefits and opposing proposals that would shift costs to seniors and persons with disabilities. And earlier this year, we established the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services to help ensure people with disabilities have the support they need to live with respect and dignity in their communities, and to be fully included in our national life.