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July 24, 2020

CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director

Florida Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation declaring July 24th “Americans with Disabilities Act Awareness Day” to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the federal bill.

The ADA was signed into law 30 years ago this month and has made a tremendous impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities.

This morning, a virtual statewide celebration was held with self-advocates, state and community leaders, and disability organizations. The online celebration, included a welcome message from Governor DeSantis, which may be viewed here.

Governor Ron DeSantis said, “The ADA has removed barriers to allow individuals with disabilities the chance to achieve their goals. Florida is happy to be an accommodating state. Florida’s constitution, the ADA, and the laws of our state affirm equality and inclusion for people with unique abilities.”

Kazana McKenzie, a self-advocate with Pyramid Studios, opened the event by singing the National Anthem. Local and state leaders addressed the virtual gathering. The speakers included Governor DeSantis, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, State Representative Loranne Ausley, Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Tallahassee Mayor Pro-Tem Dianne Williams-Cox, Leon Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge, EEOC Representative Elaine McArthur, and ABLE United Executive Director John Finch.

The three keynote speakers shared how the ADA has helped them achieve their goals. They were:

  • Whitney Harris, Comptroller for the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST)
  • Shevie Barnes, Self-advocate and Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2018
  • Peter O’Connell, Executive Director of the Center for Independent Living of South Florida

Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer said, “America is a better place because of the ADA. This landmark legislation was critical to allow people to be a part of their communities. The ADA provides vital access to buildings, jobs, education, and the entire community for individuals with special abilities.”

“Thirty years ago, the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law, and since then we've made continued progress in opportunity, accessibility, and equity for people with disabilities," said Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. "As we recognize the achievements of Floridians with disabilities, may we strengthen our commitment to the inclusion and support of those with diverse abilities in our workplaces and communities.”

State Representative Loranne Ausley said, “I am honored to be a part of this celebration marking 30 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which marked a life-changing shift in accessibility for millions of Americans with disabilities and forced a shift in attitude for Americans without disabilities.”

“The Americans with Disabilities Act is commemorating 30 years of progress in access and inclusion,” said Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee.  “The Florida Department of State is doing its part to ensure that persons with disabilities know their voting options, have equal access to voting, and have confidence that their vote is safe and secure.”

“The ADA has done so much for us as a disability community. It has given us access to things that we would not have without it. But we have so much further yet to go,” said Comptroller for the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) Whitney Harris.

“The City of Tallahassee is proud to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” City of Tallahassee Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams-Cox said. “By breaking down barriers to employment and beyond, this landmark civil rights legislation enables our society to benefit from the skills and talents of individuals with disabilities.”

“Over the past 30 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act has supported the rights of so many individuals to live, learn, and earn to their fullest potential,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge. “While our work must continue, Leon County remains committed to ensuring individuals with disabilities have better access to local government programs and services and better opportunities for full and equal participation in civic and community life."

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Miami District Acting Director Bradley Anderson said, “The EEOC Miami District recognizes and celebrates the many positive changes brought about by 30 years of the ADA.  We will continue to use our resources to advise employers and employees on their respective ADA obligations and rights, and, where necessary, to take steps to enforce the statute. We are proud to play a crucial part in helping to achieve the ADA’s goal of eliminating workplace discrimination against qualified people with disabilities—people who contribute greatly to their workplaces and our country.”

“The passage of the ADA also sparked conversations about the need to provide those with disabilities the opportunity to save,” said John Finch, Director of ABLE United, Florida’s disability savings program. “Now thousands of Floridians are saving for their futures without jeopardizing eligibility for current or future benefits.”

On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA into law. The ADA has made a tremendous impact on American life and culture. The ADA is an important civil rights act designed to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), RESPECT of Florida, ABLE United, Able Trust, Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living, Ability 1st, Blind Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, and many other stakeholders hosted Florida’s celebration of the ADA.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 55,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phalen-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit or call toll-free 1 866 APD CARES (1 866 273 2273).