President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden held an event celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act and Disability Pride Month in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 28 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden marked the anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act and Disability Pride Month with a White House celebration of the law Wednesday.
President Biden said before the ADA it was a very different world in America for disabled people, saying they helped to get bring the law to reality.
"If you were disabled stores would turn you away. Employers could refuse to hire you. If you used a wheelchair there was no required accommodation," he said. "The ADA is a testament to the character of our people, of the country. It's proof we can work together and keep moving closer to realizing the promise of America, for all Americans."
Disabled Americans, Biden, said are still three times less likely to be employed than other Americans and often earn less than others in the workforce. He said his administration is working to help state and local governments, employers and non-profits to tap federal funds to hire people with disabilities.
"The story of the disability community, of all of you, is a story of fearlessness and resilience. It's the story of tireless dedication and overcoming incredible obstacles, both figurative and concrete," the first lady said.
She noted how disabled activists crawled up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to demonstrate how inaccessible it was for people with disabilities before the law was passed.
The president said the American ADA in 1990 inspired 180 other nations to pass similar disability laws.
"America simply wasn't built for all Americans. But we changed that," he said. "And now for one in four Americans living with a disability in America, we've changed the law. It's the key to equality, opportunity and independence."
He said both the infrastructure law and the American Rescue Plan passed by the Biden administration build on what the ADA did.
"Our infrastructure law makes the biggest investment ever in accessible transit updating the infrastructure law updating subways, trains and airports," Biden said. "The American Rescue plan provided $25 billion to states to expand home and community-based services under Medicaid, so more people with disabilities can live independently in their homes."
He drew applause when he acknowledged a movement that's "not just about disability rights, but disability pride."
He said the disability movement's pride is about recognizing that disability is not about something broken to be fixed, but for millions of Americans it's a source of identity and pride, the equal right for them to be recognized for who they are.