UC Berkeley & the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

This past Sunday, July 26, 2020, marked the 30th anniversary of the day the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. 

We are proud of the role Berkeley played in the story of the ADA. In 1966, blind Cal professor Jacobus ten Broek wrote an article titled “The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts.” The article forwarded the concept of “integrationalism,”the full and equal participation in society of persons with disabilities.” In 1973 disabled people held the longest ever occupation of a federal building to actualize and fund the Rehabilitation Act, making disability discrimination illegal. The occupation was cal led for and largely led by a wheelchair using Berkeley student - Judith Heumann. In the 1980s, Berkeley Law graduate Arlene Meyerson testified before Congress, fought for national disability community input, and helped draft the legislative language of the ADA. In the 2000s the ADA provided a blueprint for the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Act is the foundation on which disabled people now build lives that include a guarantee of the right to vote, gain an education, work, engage in commerce and marry. None of these rights were fully guaranteed to disabled people by law until the ADA’s passage in 1990. 

Entities as diverse as  Senior & Disability Action Now, the federal government’s devoted ADA events page, and the Paul K. Longmore Institute at SF State University have produced a robust menu of online offerings to both celebrate how far we have come and consider what is left to be done. And, because disability justice was and is a response to white supremacy as expressed through the 20 th century Eugenics movement, we honor the anti-racist roots and future of the disability movement, inviting you to center and explore the work of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) disabled leaders such as:

The campus community will be celebrating ADA’s 30th anniversary during October, the month Berkeley traditionally devotes to focus on disability in society with the following activities: 

  • The Office of Disability Access & Compliance will host three town halls for disabled people to discuss and contribute to the Access 2020 Transition Plan & Self Evaluation.

  • The Disabled Students’ Program will host Disability Awareness Events throughout the month. 

  • The community will collectively  celebrate the establishment of the first Disability Community Center on the Berkeley campus. 

More information will be provided in the run-up to October. We hope you will join us in “Creating space to tell disability stories [as] a way that we remake the world.” - Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Ella Callow, ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer

Director for the Office of Disability Access & Compliance