ADA Timeline

Celebration of 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Disability & Employment
Celebrating 30 Years of the ADA

July 26, 1990

Americans with Disabilities Act

President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. Its employment provisions prohibit discrimination in job application procedures, hiring, advancement, termination, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.


Rehabilitation Act Amendments

Emphasizes employment as the primary goal of vocational rehabilitation. Specifically, the amendments mandate presumptive employability, meaning applicants should be presumed to be employable unless proven otherwise.


Telecommunications Act

Requires telecommunications manufacturers and service providers to ensure that equipment is designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.


Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Provides a federal tax credit to companies that hire workers from populations that face high rates of unemployment, including people with certain disabilities.


Mental Health Parity Act of 1996

Requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to provide annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits on par with such limits on medical and surgical benefits.


Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities

Evaluates existing federal programs to determine the changes, modifications, and innovations needed to remove barriers to employment faced by adults with disabilities.


Workforce Investment Act of 1998

Prohibits discrimination based on disability related to participation in or employment with WIA-funded activities and services. Also ensures that federal departments and agencies procure, use, and maintain accessible technology.

August 7, 1998

Section 508

Creates requirements for federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

July 22, 1999

Olmstead Decision

The Supreme Court decision rules that segregation of people with disabilities when integrated, community-based settings are an option, is a form of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act

Aims to create a more secure financial and healthcare framework so that more Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries can move toward financial independence through work without fear of losing needed support.


Executive Order 13163, Increasing the Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities to Be Employed in the Federal Government

Increases recruitment of people with disabilities and strengthens efforts to provide reasonable accommodations. A second directive signed the same day requires departments and agencies to develop written procedures for processing reasonable accommodation requests.


Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act

Improves services for people with developmental disabilities in a number of areas, including employment.


Office of Disability Employment Policy

Establishes, for the first time ever, a permanent entity to focus on disability within the context of federal labor policy.


Ticket to Work Program

Aims to increase the financial independence of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries by providing improved options for receiving employment services and maintaining publicly funded healthcare.


Assistive Technology Act of 2004

Requires states to provide direct aid to people with disabilities to ensure that they have access to the technology they need at home and at work and authorized the development of alternative financing mechanisms.

September 25, 2008

Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008

Makes important changes to the definition of the term “disability,” reversing previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions in favor of a broad and inclusive interpretation.


Monthly Reporting of Disability Employment Statistics

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics adds disability status to the monthly Current Population Survey, marking the first time that official government data on the employment status of people with disabilities was available.


Campaign for Disability Employment

This multi-organization initiative uses positive messages and images to encourage employers and others to recognize the value and talent people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces and economy.


Executive Order 13548—Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities

On the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Barack Obama signs Executive Order 13548, “Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities,” directing federal departments and agencies to increase the recruitment, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities.


Induction of Justin W. Dart Jr. and Helen Keller into Labor Hall of Honor

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Department of Labor inducted disability activists Justin W. Dart Jr. and Helen Keller into the Labor Hall of Honor.

September 15, 2010

Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design

Sets enforceable accessibility minimum standard requirements for newly designed and constructed or altered facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

September 29, 2010

Disability Employment Initiative

Provides funds to nine states to improve education, training and employment opportunities and outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities who are unemployed or receiving Social Security disability benefits.

August, 27, 2013

Updates to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act

Prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against people with disabilities and requires them to take proactive steps to recruit, hire, promote, and retain people with disabilities.


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Reauthorizes and amends crucial programs to help job seekers access the services they need to succeed in employment and match employers with skilled workers. Ensures that individuals with disabilities have access to information and services that will enable them to achieve competitive integrated employment.


Achieving a Better Life Experience Act

Improves financial stability and employment options for persons with disabilities by authorizing tax-advantaged savings accounts for youth and adults with disabilities.


Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities

Makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on ways to increase opportunities for competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities.


Apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity Rule

Ensures equal employment opportunity in Registered Apprenticeship Programs with the aim to help sponsors of apprenticeship programs reach a larger and more diverse pool of workers, including people with disabilities.

January 3, 2017

Section 501 Updates

Updates the responsibilities of federal agencies to take proactive steps to employ qualified individuals with disabilities. The updates also require the provision of personal assistance services to certain employees who need them because of a disability.


Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network

Through RETAIN, ODEP awards grants to eight state teams to implement and evaluate early intervention strategies designed to improve stay-at-work/return-to-work outcomes.


21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act

Requires federal agencies to modernize their websites and digital services, according to eight specific criteria, including accessibility for people with disabilities, and sets a deadline for compliance.


Section 503 Focused Reviews

Prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against people with disabilities and requires them to take proactive steps to recruit, hire, promote, and retain people with disabilities.


Excellence in Disability Inclusion Award

Recognizes federal contractors that demonstrate excellence in including people with disabilities in their workforces, and highlights successful best practices for disability inclusion.

Celebration of 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act