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June 9, 2015

The ADA, Disability, and Identity

Author Affiliations
  • 1US Department of Justice, Washington, DC
  • 2Brown Goldstein & Levy, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA. 2015;313(22):2227-2228. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.4936

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The civil rights approach to disability incorporated in the ADA challenges the all too prevalent views of US society that people with disabilities are to be the objects of pity, charity, and medical intervention. It also challenges the common view of what constitutes a disability.

The ADA was supported by a diverse community, with members from a variety of backgrounds in terms of race, income, and political affiliation. But they shared a similar experience of discrimination and faced similar prevalent societal responses to their disabilities—exclusion, low expectations, and limited opportunity to participate fully and meaningfully in all that US society offers.

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