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The Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25

This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

The ADA prohibits discrimination based on a person’s disability. It affords people with disabilities similar protections against discrimination as the 1964 Civil Rights act, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal.

The ADA also requires covered employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities and requires accessibility in public places. 

Mike Zelley is the president of the Flint-based Disability Network.

He says the ADA has not only been beneficial for people with disabilities, it has also been good for business.

“Let’s think about 54 million Americans with disabilities, according to the U.S. Census, who have about $280 billion dollars in disposable income,” says Zelley. “I mean that’s one heck of a market from a business perspective.”

Zelley says the next step is changing people’s perception of those with disabilities.   

According to a Harris poll, 83% of Americans who have seen, heard or read anything about the legislation say they favor and support it. It's worth noting that this support is universal, with strong majorities of Americans favoring the act across demographic, socioeconomic and political lines.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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