Statement from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on the 33rd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Today marks 33 years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This sweeping legislation protects people with disabilities from discrimination by state and local governments and employers. It ensures equal access to healthcare, social services, transportation, telecommunications, and other critical services. The ADA guaranteed disabled people the right to live the lives they want to live, with equal access to all our country has to offer.
Passing the ADA was a significant victory in the fight for disability rights. In the years since it was passed, our country has made strides toward the ADA's promise of true inclusion. Unfortunately, far too many people with disabilities are still unable get the services and supports they need to live in their communities. Lack of accessible housing and transportation creates insurmountable barriers to independence and equal opportunity for many. Bias still closes doors, threatening access to vital services like health care.
I started my career as a legal aid attorney helping people with mental health disabilities and advocating for disability rights – and I have continued this work for nearly four decades. I am proud of the work HHS is doing to address the health disparities of people with disabilities, expand home and community-based services, ensure equitable access to health care, and more.
In his proclamation marking the ADA anniversary, President Biden calls for action to expand access to home and community based services and accessible transportation, improve employment opportunities, protect voting rights, and more. We must challenge ourselves, and our nation, to accelerate our progress and make inclusion and equal opportunity for people with disabilities a reality. The fight for disability rights continues, and we at HHS remain committed.
People with disabilities are valued and vibrant members of communities across the country. As we mark the anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act legislation - which makes it possible for so many of our loved ones to go to school, work, and enjoy life – we must all double down on our ongoing commitment to build a more inclusive America.
- HHS Deputy Secretary, Andrea Palm
The passage of the ADA was an important milestone in the fight for disability rights, but 33 years later, its promises remain unfulfilled for far too many disabled people. Making the ADA’s powerful provisions a reality for everyone will require a concerted, committed effort from all of us. ACL is proud to continue the fight – alongside people with disabilities and their families, our networks, and partners across the country – until disabled people truly have equal access to all of our country’s opportunities.
- Administration for Community Living Acting Administrator, Alison Barkoff
The Americans with Disabilities Act embodies our nation’s commitment to ensuring that disabled Americans have the same rights to live, work, and flourish in their communities—and to control their own lives and choices—as anyone else. Although we have not yet fully realized the promises of that law, HHS works every day to advance equality, opportunity, and community living for Americans with disabilities. It is our great honor at the Office of General Counsel to support and advance that work.
- General Counsel, Samuel R. Bagenstos
On this 33rd anniversary of the ADA, the Office for Civil Rights remains committed to enforcing its promise of equal opportunity and full inclusion for people with disabilities in all aspects of society. We will continue our work to combat inequality in health and human services through ensuring compliance and investigating complaints to fulfill the ADA’s purpose: eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities.
- Office for Civil Rights Director, Melanie Fontes Rainer
Relentless advocacy resulted in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act 33 years ago. Today, that advocacy continues so children and adults with disabilities in our nation have their rights protected in how they live, work and learn.
- Administration for Children and Families Assistant Secretary, January Contreras
The Americans with Disabilities Act was a breakthrough for people with disabilities in the fight for civil rights, but 33 years later the struggle isn’t over. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the gaps that Americans with disabilities experience in access, quality, safety, and appropriateness of healthcare, and we need to work together as a nation to reduce fragmentation in care and not lose further ground. Much more work is needed to ensure that the promise of the ADA is fulfilled.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Director, Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A.
At the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, we know the toughest challenges can’t be solved without all of us working together and our mission to accelerate better health doesn’t end until we reach everyone. The Americans with Disabilities Act marked a huge step forward. We know there is still much more to be done to achieve the promise of ADA, and we at ARPA-H are committed to making our agency, and our nation, a place where all can thrive.
- Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health Director, Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D.
As we commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we remember the protections this bi-partisan law has afforded millions of Americans with disabilities. We also know there is much more work to be done, and I look forward to working with Congress and leaders across the Department towards fulfilling the law’s promise.
- Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislation, Melanie Egorin
ASPE is committed to ensuring that HHS’ policies and programs enhance the well-being of people with disabilities and are informed by the strongest evidence. To achieve this, we recognize that people with disabilities must be central to the evidence development process, and that our work must reflect their diverse perspectives and needs.
- Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy, Miranda Lynch-Smith
When disaster strikes, no one should be left behind. At ASPR we are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to the information and resources they need to stay safe in a disaster or public health emergency.
- Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Dawn O’Connell
While the ADA broke down barriers to inclusion, the work is far from over. We know people with disabilities continue to face discrimination and stigma. At CDC, we are committed to helping the disability community thrive.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. MPH
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was historic and affirmed the inherent dignity of people with disabilities. At CMS, our goal is to support all enrollees in getting the care they need through the three “M’s” of CMS - Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Marketplaces. These programs serve more than one in three Americans, including millions of people with disabilities – and thanks in part to the ADA’s landmark advancements, our programs support the goals of people with disabilities to live and thrive in their communities.
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Administrator, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
The Americans with Disabilities Act affirmed that disability rights are indeed human rights and paved the way for an inclusive and equitable society. However, we must continue to defend these hard-fought rights and strive to close the gap between legislation and lived reality, thus further ensuring that we fulfill the promise of the ADA.
- Departmental Appeals Board Chair, Constance B. Tobias
Inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act and its supporters, we at the FDA are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities. We aim to foster an inclusive work environment that values diversity and empowers every individual to participate and contribute to their fullest potential. To achieve this, we actively promote a culture of inclusiveness, eliminate barriers to fair treatment and equal employment opportunities, and ensure accessibility and reasonable accommodations. Furthermore, we seek to educate our workforce about the advantages of diversity, equity, and inclusion; provide a platform to address allegations of discrimination; and facilitate the resolution of workplace grievances. Thirty-three years later our work implementing the ADA continues and will continue as we help seek to make it possible for people with disabilities to participate in the everyday commercial, economic, and social activities of American life.
- Food and Drug Administration Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Robert Califf, M.D.
This Disability Pride Month, we commemorate the Americans with Disabilities Act and honor those who have made strides to ensure that every person is treated equally and empowered to have a healthy, successful life. At HRSA, we’ve taken important steps to ensure that every child who has a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition gets the services they need, that those with HIV receive whole-person care in a supportive and stigma free environment, and that our HRSA-funded health centers continue to provide accessible primary care services, with supports like sign language services, insurance eligibility assistance, and transportation services to reduce barriers to care and improve health outcomes. We also recognize there is more work to be done. Today, and every day, we recognize all the things that make us unique and recommit our agency to challenging misconceptions about disabilities and providing the best possible care to everyone.
- Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator, Carole Johnson
Every person deserves equal access to healthcare, regardless of their abilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act has been instrumental in ensuring that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunities to receive quality medical care. Let's mark the anniversary of ADA by continuing to advocate for inclusive and accessible healthcare for all.
- Intergovernmental and External Affairs Director, Marvin Figueroa
The Indian Health Service is committed to improving the health of people with disabilities and building cultural competency and an inclusive environment across Indian Country. In the unwavering pursuit to defend the rights protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, we reinforce our efforts to fulfill the promise of equality and encourage our partners and collaborators to become allies in the movement toward acceptance and appreciation of all people within the communities we serve, regardless of ability.
- Indian Health Service Director, Roselyn Tso.
This month we commemorate the 33rd anniversary of passing the Americans with Disabilities Act. This piece of legislation served as a landmark moment of progress in civil rights history – but it was just the beginning of ensuring disability rights. People of color, LGBTQI+ people, and other marginalized groups with disabilities face discrimination and difficulty accessing necessary health care. This disability pride month and every month, we work towards an equitable future where all Americans — including those with disabilities — can lead happy and healthy lives.
- Assistant Secretary for Health, Adm. Rachel L. Levine
ONC is continually working to advance the use of data to represent social needs and the conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play. The United States Core Data for Interoperability, which ONC updates annually, includes ‘disability status’ as a standardized data element so that relevant information about patients with disabilities can be recorded and shared as appropriate to their care.
- National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., M.P.P.
The anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act commemorates a landmark legislation that broke down barriers and incorporated inclusion for millions of individuals. SAMHSA honors the diversity and uniqueness of each person who has a disability, including those with behavioral health disabilities. We are committed to ensuring that the promise of the ADA is fulfilled as we continue the work to fully realize its potential.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D.