Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25th Anniversary
July 26th marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law that strengthens the inclusion of people with disabilities at work, school, or other community settings. Learn what CDC is doing to include people with disabilities in public health research and health promotion activities.
Anyone can have a disability at any point in their life. Disabilities, which limit how a child or adult functions, may include difficulty walking or climbing stairs; hearing; seeing; or concentrating, remembering, or making decisions. An estimated 37 million1 to 57 million2 people are living with a disability in the United States, and many people will experience a disability at some time during the course of their life.
Enacted on July 26, 1990, the goals of the ADA are to promote equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.3 The ADA has made a positive difference in the lives of those who have disabilities by providing better access to buildings, transportation, and employment. However, access to health care, and the inclusion of people with disabilities in health promotion, and disease prevention programs is still a challenge; people with disabilities continue to face significant differences in health compared to people who do not have disabilities. For example:
- Adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities.4
- Adults with disabilities are more likely than adults without disabilities to smoke, to be obese, and to be physically inactive.5
- Women with disabilities are less likely than women without disabilities to have received a mammogram in the previous two years.6
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes ADA as an opportunity for the inclusion of people with disabilities in federal efforts related to health and health care.
CDC's Tools for Inclusion
People with disabilities need public health programs and healthcare services to be healthy, active, and a part of the community. It is critical to include people with disabilities in public health programs and activities that seek to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the population. To work toward this, CDC provides information and resources that public health practitioners, healthcare providers and people interested in the health and well-being of people with disabilities can use to increase awareness about disability inclusion. This information and the resources can help ensure that everybody - with and without disabilities - can live, work, learn, and play in their communities.
We encourage you to visit the newly updated Disability and Health website to find helpful information about disability inclusion and learn more about:
- Barriers that people with disabilities usually experience in communities
- Strategies to create inclusive communities
- Resources to include people with disabilities in public health programs and activities
Supporting People with Disabilities
CDC supports 18 state-based disability and health programs to make sure that people with disabilities are included in ongoing disease prevention, health promotion, and emergency response activities within the state. CDC also partners with four National Public Health Practice and Resource Centers (NPHPRC) to improve the lives of people living with disabilities. These partnerships promote inclusion and provide health information, education, consultation, and inclusion strategies to healthcare professionals, people with disabilities, caregivers, media, researchers, policymakers and the public.
CDC also maintains the Disability and Health Data System (DHDS), an online interactive tool that provides instant access to state-level, disability-specific health data. Users can customize the disability and health data they view, making it easy to identify health differences between adults with and without disabilities.
CDC is committed to protecting the health and well-being of people with disabilities across their lifespan. Through its state-based disability and health programs and national collaborations, CDC will continue to reduce differences in health faced by people with disabilities by fostering their inclusion in public health surveys, public health programs, emergency preparedness and planning efforts, and accessible healthcare services.
The work of CDC honors the intent of the ADA as a critical piece of civil rights legislation that can ensure that people with disabilities receive critical healthcare services and programs, enjoy a high quality of life, experience independence in their community, and reach their full potential.
To learn more, please visit the Disability and Health website.
To learn more about disability inclusion, please see our information on inclusion.
- U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1810; generated by Michael H. Fox, using American FactFinder; (16 July 2013).
- Brault MW. Americans with disabilities: 2010. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau; 2012.
- State of Georgia's ADA Coordinator's Office. History and Spirit Behind the ADA
- Carroll D, Courtney-Long E, Stevens A, Sloan M, Lullo C, Visser S, Fox M, Armour B, Campbell V, Brown D, and Dorn, J. Disability and Physical Activity – United States, 2009-2012. MMWR. 2014.
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2012
- Courtney-Long E, Armour B, Frammartino B, Miller J. Factors associated with self-reported mammography use for women with and women without a disability. Journal of Women's Health. 2011; 20:1279-1286