Government and the ADA


Government and the ADA


President George HW Bush Signing the ADA


In the United States, achieving full equality under the law is still an ongoing struggle. People with disabilities have often been legally marginalized and sometimes legally excluded. Problems with access to public places, employment and sometimes even marriage were legal barriers. In the Government Module we trace the interaction between government and the rights of people with disabilities, and historical and policy information is addressed through the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. (see Lesson Plan Content)



Myths and Facts about the Americans with Disabilities Act

Employers and the ADA: Myths and Facts

Dept of Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act


James Langevin, Congressman

Faces of the ADA



  • Have the students discuss: “What impact does disability have on a society?” Focus the discussion on issues related to public access, civil rights and value of different types of people.
  • Have the students investigate the legal and societal situation for people with disabilities in the first half of the 20th century. Has the situation changed today? If so, in what ways?



  • Have the students select a specific area of legally mandated access – such as public places (stores) or telephones or the internet. Have them document the actual level of accessibility. Have them count the number of visibly disabled people that they see in public places on a weekend. If disabled people are at least 10% of any population, where do they think the other disabled people are?
  • Have the students interview people with disabilities in their local area about the role of government in providing equality of access. Also, have students interview people with disabilities about their own personal role in advocating for access or being part of the disability rights movement.
  • Have students consider the similarities between the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement and Native Indian self-government movements with the disability rights movements.



This lesson has three parts: Background of anti-discrimination laws; information about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created and became a law; and how the ADA is enforced.



This lesson’s activity asks students to think about the role of government in people’s lives, and about political considerations which guide elected officials voting decisions.



In the Self-Test students are able to assess the level of their understanding of both the lesson and the accompanying activities. In seven multiple choice questions students get immediate feedback on their answers.


People Resources

This section includes a wide range of workers with disabilities including taxi drivers, scientists and artists.


Resources for further learning

With a focus on employment, these Resources provide extensive information about a myriad of pre-employment and employment situations for people with disabilities. It includes: cost analysis for making workplace accommodations; court decisions on disabled people in the workplace; issues facing disabled people of color; and myths about people with disabilities as workers.

This lesson plan is part of EDGE (Education for Disability and Gender Equity) Curriculum.  This website creates a web experience specifically for high schoolers that covers four different topics.  The Government topic helps students understand the how the U.S. government affects the lives of citizens and how citizens influence the government through laws such as the American with Disabilities Act.


Lesson Plan: http://www.disabilityhistory.org/dwa/edge/curriculum/tguide/t_guide_gov.htm

Web Experience for Students: http://www.disabilityhistory.org/dwa/edge/curriculum/govern.htm

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