Presidential Proclamation – Anniversary of the ADA

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
July 25, 2011

Presidential Proclamation — Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities

Generations of Americans with disabilities have improved our country in
countless ways. Refusing to accept the world as it was, they have torn down
the barriers that prohibited them from fully realizing the American dream.
Their tireless efforts led to the enactment of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), one of the most comprehensive pieces of civil rights
legislation in our Nation’s history. On this day, we celebrate the 21st
anniversary of the ADA and the progress we have made, and we reaffirm our
commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans.

Each day, people living with disabilities make immeasurable contributions to
the diversity and vitality of our communities. Nearly one in five Americans
lives with a disability. They are our family members and friends, neighbors
and colleagues, and business and civic leaders. Since the passing of the
ADA, persons with disabilities are leading fuller lives in neighborhoods
that are more accessible and have greater access to new technologies. In our
classrooms, young people with disabilities now enjoy the same educational
opportunities as their peers and are gaining the tools necessary to reach
their greatest potential.

Despite these advancements, there is more work to be done, and my
Administration remains committed to ending all forms of discrimination and
upholding the rights of Americans with disabilities. The Department of
Justice continues to strengthen enforcement of the ADA by ensuring that
persons with disabilities have access to community-based services that allow
them to lead independent lives in the communities of their choosing. Under
provisions of the Affordable Care Act, insurers will no longer be able to
engage in the discriminatory practice of denying coverage based on
pre-existing conditions, and Americans with disabilities will have greater
control over their health care choices. And last year, I signed an Executive
Order establishing the Federal Government as a model employer for
individuals with disabilities, placing a special focus on recruitment and
retention of public servants with disabilities across Federal agencies.

Through the ADA, America was the first country in the world to
comprehensively declare equality for citizens with disabilities. To continue
promoting these principles, we have joined in signing the Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At its core, this Convention promotes
equality. It seeks to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same
rights and opportunities as all people, and are able to lead their lives as
do other individuals.

Eventual ratification of this Convention would represent another important
step in our forty-plus years of protecting disability rights. It would offer
us a platform to encourage other countries to join and implement the
Convention. Broad implementation would mean greater protections and benefits
abroad for millions of Americans with disabilities, including our veterans,
who travel, conduct business, study, reside, or retire overseas. In
encouraging other countries to join and implement the Convention, we also
could help level the playing field to the benefit of American companies, who
already meet high standards under United States domestic law. Improved
disabilities standards abroad would also afford American businesses
increased opportunities to export innovative products and technologies,
stimulating job creation at home.

Equal access, equal opportunity, and the freedom to make of our lives what
we will are principles upon which our Nation was founded, and they continue
to guide our efforts to perfect our Union. Together, we can ensure our
country is not deprived of the full talents and contributions of the
approximately 54 million Americans living with disabilities, and we will
move forward with the work of providing pathways to opportunity to all of
our people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America,
by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of
the United States, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, July 26, 2011, the
Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I encourage Americans
across our Nation to celebrate the 21st anniversary of this civil rights law
and the many contributions of individuals with disabilities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of
July, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence
of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.



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