Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities. This legislation, following from decades of disability activism, stated that its main purpose was to “provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” On Sunday we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the ADA.
The ADA has expanded opportunities for Americans by recognizing people with disabilities as a protected class. Its provisions have worked to remove barriers to full participation not only in education but also in employment, various services, public spaces, and community life. However, the full promise of the ADA will only be reached if all of us are willing to go beyond the ADA’s basic protections in order to achieve full access and equity for the members of our community with disabilities.
To this end, we have several units on campus that play a key role in this mission and we encourage you to reach out to any of them to learn more. The Office for Access and Equity leads comprehensive ADA coordination and culture change, including reviewing and approving employee accommodations and engaging in the interactive process with all university units. The Office for Access and Equity also oversees the Disability Resource Center, which works closely with students and faculty in order to empower the UIC community with the knowledge, resources and skills necessary to ensure full access and engagement for students with disabilities in all aspects of college life.
The Office of Diversity oversees UIC’s Disability Cultural Center, one of the very few such centers in the country. The center, which is dedicated to understanding disability as a social justice issue, is a site for identity, community and culture.
The Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities brings together students, faculty and staff who seek to promote the academic, professional, cultural and social welfare of persons with disabilities. The committee makes recommendations to the Chancellor and develops programs that further address the comprehensive concerns of persons with disabilities.
Our mission is also greatly enhanced by the Disability and Human Development Department and the Great Lakes ADA Center in the College of Applied Health Sciences. The Disability and Human Development Department is an internationally-recognized center for the interdisciplinary study of disability, conducting scholarship and community-engaged service across the spectrum of disability, including advocacy, culture, education, health promotion, history, policy and technology. The department offered the first PhD in disability studies in the country, and its decades of groundbreaking scholarship and innovative community engagement have placed UIC at the center of disability studies. The Great Lakes ADA Center is a resource to support increased awareness and voluntary compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Comparing our University today to where we were 30 years ago, we are proud of the progress we have made, but we also recognize that much more work is needed to achieve a fully accessible culture for all. We are grateful not only to the people and communities whose advocacy made the ADA possible, but also to all the UIC community members and units that work every day to realize a more accessible and equitable University for our students, faculty and staff with disabilities.
Caryn A Bills-Windt
Associate Chancellor, Office for Access and Equity
Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Diversity