Impact Feature Issue on the ADA and People with Intellectual Developmental, and Other Disabilities

From the Editors

In July 2015, we mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In talking with people about the difference this law has made in their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and our nation, one of the words we’ve heard most frequently is “promise.” The ADA is, for many, a promise our nation has made that Americans with disabilities will have the same opportunity as Americans without disabilities to experience freedom, dignity, meaning, and inclusion. It’s a promise that the full force of our system of government will be their ally and advocate as they seek to take a valued place in their communities. And it’s a promise that the law will go ahead of them and alongside them dismantling barriers to their full participation in their communities. Many of the people whose articles are in this Impact have found that the promise has changed their lives for the better.

But we’ve also heard authors in this issue talk about ways in which the promise, or the realization of the promise, is incomplete because it doesn’t yet include everyone. Specifically, we’ve heard about ways in which people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have often not reaped the full benefit of the ADA because the challenges and barriers they face are not yet fully addressed. From that perspective, the ADA has not done (and may not by itself be able to do) all that still needs to be done.

So in this Impact, the ADA’s promise is seen as both having arrived, and still on the way. By sharing those different perspectives, we hope readers of this issue will both pause to celebrate the anniversary of this turning point in our nation’s journey, and then continue traveling toward that horizon of full inclusion we have yet to reach.