30 Years of ADA: Webinar Series Reflects on Our Progress and Charts Out a Future for Disability Inclusion

Elise Gurney

July 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has transformed protections, access and opportunities for people with disabilities. The anniversary provides an occasion to both commemorate the ADA — to reflect on its significance and the progress we’ve made over the last three decades — and to map out an even more inclusive future.

What was life like before the ADA? What changes did the ADA produce? What programs, within state governments and in the private sector, have most effectively achieved goals of inclusion and integration? And what steps will continue to advance these goals, both in general and within our current COVID-19 landscape? The Council of State Governments is hosting a six-part webinar series to explore these questions, beginning with “The Legacy of the ADA: Celebrating 30 Years of Increasing Access and Opportunity.”

The webinar will be held Thursday, July 30, 2020 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET and will feature a panel discussion with four key leaders of disability policy. You can register for the webinar here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8661834264483776525.

Picture of Bobby Silverstein
Bobby Silverstein, Principal PPSV, SEED Team

Bobby Silverstein is a prolific author, speaker and trainer with 40 years of experience in law focused on disability advocacy. He is known as the “behind-the-scenes architect” of 20 enacted bills, including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Professor at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics

Lex Frieden is professor of Health Informatics and Rehabilitation at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and directs the Independent Living Research Utilization Program (ILRU) at TIRR Memorial Hermann. He has served as chairperson of the National Council on Disability, president of Rehabilitation International and chairperson of the American Association of People with Disabilities. He is also a founder of the independent living movement and was instrumental in conceiving and drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Picture of Jill Houghton

Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability:IN, provides global disability inclusion best practices to 100 Disability:IN partners. She has over 25 years of leadership experience at the federal, state and local levels working with businesses to advance the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

Picture of David D'Arcangelo
Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind


David D’Arcangelo is the current commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and has served as director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability, where he implemented several new and innovative programs. He has extensive experience in government, public policy and non-profit leadership.

COVID-19 and the Workforce: Impacts on Workers with Disabilities

By Rachel Wright

Unemployment and Absence from Work

As the coronavirus pandemic temporarily curtailed many businesses’ in-person operations, layoffs and furloughs were quick to follow. Although the permanency of these layoffs is still unclear, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that job losses throughout the pandemic culminated in an unemployment rate of nearly 14.7% by the end of April. Of the positions lost, approximately 950,000 were previously held by workers with disabilities, putting the unemployment rate among these workers at 20%[1].

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The State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED), an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), assists states in developing effective and inclusive workforce policies that promote disability employment. Recognizing that every state is unique, SEED offers policy options and resources that states can tailor to meet their individual needs and goals. To this end, SEED partners with leading intermediary organizations that serve as trusted sources of information to state and local policymakers.

Updated on June 18th, 2020


Uber Expands Paratransit Options for Eight Cities

By Sydney Geiger | Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 10:52 AM

Boston, Chicago, D.C., Las Vegas, Toronto, San Francisco and New York City are improving their paratransit options through an Uber initiative. Since Uber’s launch, the company has invested in ensuring that its features and technologies are accessible to all users. In November 2018, Uber, a CSG Associate member, announced plans to widely expand paratransit for individuals using wheelchairs and other motorized mobilization devices.

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Washington Pilot Program Helps Individuals with Disabilities Return to the Workforce

ByTrent Patrick | Monday, September 9, 2019 at 03:59 PM

The focus on helping individuals with mid-career disabilities stay in or return to the workforce is emerging in the economic and health sectors of the public policy arena. This focus comes from the drive to retain good employees in the workforce, which benefits state governments, employees and employers.

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State Medicaid Buy-In Programs for Workers with Disabilities

By Sydney Geiger | Monday, September 23, 2019 at 10:05 AM

Fear of losing Medicaid coverage can deter people with disabilities from entering the labor market. Medicaid buy-in programs allow workers with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage that enables them to participate in the workforce without losing health care benefits. A large majority of states such as Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, amongst others, are participating in or pursuing these kinds of programs.

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Kentucky Representatives Cross Party Lines to Develop Engage and Empower Caucus

By Sydney Geiger | Friday, November 1, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Two Kentucky representatives — Rep. Al Gentry and Rep. Brandon Reed — have crossed party lines to co-chair a caucus focused on issues facing people with disabilities. The bipartisan caucus is currently comprised of nine republicans and nine democrats.

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Kentucky Paves the Way for Public Sector Apprenticeships

By Sydney Geiger | Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 10:49 AM

Kentuckians work for the government at a rate slightly higher than the national average — 16.2%. Based on application trends, however, that percentage might decrease. According to a report from the National Association of State Chief Administrators, the number of applicants for state government jobs has decreased by 24% from 2013 through 2017.[1]

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Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Vocational Rehabilitation Programs

By Rachel Wright | Monday, April 13, 2020 at 04:42 PM

This year marks the 100th anniversary of federal-state vocational rehabilitation programs and services. The 1920 Smith-Fees Act, also known as the Civilian Rehabilitation Act, put forth the necessary funding for states to provide prosthetics, vocational guidance, training, occupational adjustment and placement services to individuals with disabilities.

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