On a beautiful summer day in 1990, President George H. W. Bush welcomed people with disabilities to the White House lawn and signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. Since that time, the Department of Justice has been at the forefront of implementing this revolutionary law. The ADA is now in its seventeenth year; in this Report, we take the opportunity to celebrate our achievements and to plan for future progress.
Early in his first term, President George W. Bush did both. He noted how much our country had accomplished since it resolved to eliminate barriers preventing people with disabilities from fully participating in all aspects of American life. The ADA has made employment, public accommodations, commercial facilities, information technology, telecommunication services, housing, schools, transportation, and polling places all dramatically more accessible. The President also observed, however, that significant challenges remain. He announced the New Freedom Initiative, a comprehensive set of goals and a plan of action to ensure that people with disabilities face no further obstacles to full participation in our free market economy and society.
The Department of Justice, responding to the New Freedom Initiative, has increased and improved its implementation of the ADA. This Report demonstrates that our robust enforcement program sets the standard for ADA compliance nationwide. Our highly respected technical assistance program annually helps millions of people understand and comply voluntarily with the ADA. With Project Civic Access, we assist local governments around the country as they make their programs and services more accessible to people with disabilities. Our unique mediation program helps resolve ADA disputes. Our ADA Business Connection brings together local business and disability leaders, helping them facilitate access of people with disabilities to products and services, which in turn expands business markets. With these tools, we have helped provide people with disabilities greater access to health care, emergency services, town halls, courts, transportation, education, employment, stores, hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, childcare centers, and other settings in communities across America. This Report provides dozens of examples of such achievements over the past five years.
We at the Department of Justice are proud of these accomplishments, but we are not done. We will continue to pursue the commands of the ADA and the goals of the President's New Freedom Initiative as we strive to open doors to the American way of life that remain closed to people with disabilities.
Alberto R. Gonzales