President Obama Celebrates 25 Years of the ADA

Yesterday, President Obama celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the White House.

In the East Room, President Obama honored those who made the ADA the law of the land – the activists, congressional representatives, and stakeholders who worked tirelessly to ensure that millions of Americans with disabilities had the chance to make their contributions to the world.

"Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life -- schools, workplaces, movie theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks -- they truly belong to everyone."

— President Obama

President Obama during 25th anniversary ADA remarks

An interpreter signs in the foreground while President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks during a reception for the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the East Room of the White House, July 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama outlined the commitments that the government has made to be more responsive to people with disabilities since the passage of the ADA — and reiterated his own commitment to continuing the legacy set in place by President George H.W. Bush when the ADA was signed in 1990.

The Obama administration created the first office within FEMA dedicated to disabilities - so that if and when a disaster strikes we are prepared to help everyone – and created the first special advisor for international disabilities at the State Department. The Administration has also worked to make sure that federal contractors have plans in place for hiring people with disabilities, and has encouraged all others to do the same.

The President lauded the contributions of the ADA, and highlighted that more people with disabilities are in the workforce today than at any point in the last 30 years because of this legislation. He also explained how the ADA was personal to him - his father-in-law, Fraser Robinson, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 30s, before the passage of the ADA, and could have benefited from its provisions.

“And just through the power of his example, he opened a lot of people’s eyes, including mine, to some of the obstacles that folks with disabilities faced and how important it is that the rest of us do our part to remove those obstacles,” the President said.

Read the President’s full remarks from yesterday's ADA reception here.

See more on what the Obama administration has done to help people with disabilities here.

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The Oldest Living Veteran Meets the President

This afternoon, President Obama invited 110-year-old Emma Didlake -- believed to be the country's oldest living veteran -- to the Oval Office. "It's a great honor to have her here." the President said.

President Obama meets the nation's oldest vet, Emma Didlake

President Barack Obama greets the nation’s oldest living veteran, Emma Didlake, in the Oval Office, July 17, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Emma Didlake was a 38-year-old wife and mother when she decided she wanted to join the military. In 1943, she signed up for the Women’s Auxiliary Corp (WAC) and served as an Army private and driver for almost a year during World War II.

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