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Monday, January 20, 2014

George H.W. Bush and Disability Rights

Today is the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of George H.W. Bush.

In 1990, he signed PL 101-476, which changed the title of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The new law added two categories of eligibility to federal special education law -- autism and traumatic brain injury -- and mandated transition services.

In the same year, Bush also signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the nation's first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.

The Bush administration's role in ADA was not passive.  As Joseph P. Shaprio explained in his book, No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement, EEOC Chairman Evan Kemp and White House counsel C. Boyden Gray played key roles in passing ADA.