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The Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Assessing the Progress Toward Achieving the Goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act

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Letter of Transmittal

July 26, 2007

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The National Council on Disability (NCD) is charged with gathering information about the implementation, effectiveness, and impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In keeping with this requirement, I submit this new report, entitledThe Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Assessing the Progress Toward Achieving the Goals of the ADA, which addresses many of the goals of your New Freedom Initiative pertaining to community integration, participation, and enhancement of the independence of people with disabilities at home, at work, and throughout the course of their daily lives.

The purpose of the ADA is "to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities." This report describes a two-year retrospective study and review of the impact the ADA has had on the lives of Americans with disabilities over the past sixteen years, with particular focus on the four major goals of the ADA—equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. NCD consulted disability experts and ADA stakeholders from around the country through interviews, public forums, and focus groups, and analyzed existing data and information sources to gather information about the impact of the ADA. The findings are encouraging but far from complete.

The provisions of the ADA addressing architectural, transportation, and communication accessibility have changed the face of American society in numerous concrete ways, enhancing the independence, full participation, inclusion, and equality of opportunity for Americans with disabilities. Americans with disabilities report having greater access to goods and services from businesses, state and local governments, and their local communities. People with mobility impairments have experienced substantial improvements in physical access to transportation, businesses and government agencies. As workers, people with disabilities are more likely to receive accommodations and less likely to be terminated due to their disabilities. However, obtaining employment remains difficult for people with visible and severe disabilities. Disparities still exist in access to health insurance, health care, and financial assets for people with disabilities, as compared to people without disabilities. Access to information, particularly the Internet, is inconsistent, at best, for people who are visually impaired. Progress toward the goal of economic self-sufficiency appears to be the goal having the least success.

The ADA impact report contains recommendations for addressing the barriers that are preventing full achievement of the overarching goals of the ADA, and NCD remains committed to working with the Administration, Congress, and the public to achieve the promise of the ADA for all Americans—the elimination of disability-based discrimination in all aspects of society.


Figure Representing Signature of John R. Vaughn

John R. Vaughn


National Council on Disability Members and Staff


John R. Vaughn, Chairperson
Patricia Pound, First Vice Chairperson
Glenn Anderson, Ph.D., Second Vice Chairperson
Milton Aponte, J.D.
Victoria Ray Carlson
Chad Colley
Robert R. Davila, Ph.D.
Graham Hill
Young Woo Kang, Ph.D.
Kathleen Martinez
Lisa Mattheiss
Anne M. Rader
Marco Rodriguez
Cynthia Wainscott
Linda Wetters


Michael C. Collins, Executive Director
Martin Gould, Ed.D., Director of Research and Technology
Mark S. Quigley, Director of Communications
Julie Carroll, Senior Attorney Advisor
Joan M. Durocher, Senior Attorney Advisor
Geraldine Drake Hawkins, Ph.D., Senior Program Analyst
Pamela O'Leary, Sign Language Interpreter
Mark E. Seifarth, Congressional Liaison
Brenda Bratton, Executive Assistant
Stacey S. Brown, Staff Assistant
Carla Nelson, Secretary


The National Council on Disability wishes to express its appreciation to Patricia M. Jackson, Program Manager Lockheed Martin Services, Inc., Peter Blanck, Ph.D., J.D., Chair, Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, and James Schmeling, J.D., Interim Co-Director, Law, Health Policy and Disability Center, University of Iowa College of Law, for conducting the ADA Impact Study and for drafting this report.