July 26th, 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights law that represents the most comprehensive disability rights legislation in history.
At the center of the ADA’s push through Congress 30 years ago was Powers attorney Bobby Silverstein, who served as staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy, as well as chief aide to Senator Tom Harkin, the lead sponsor of the ADA in the Senate. Considered by many to be one of the primary behind-the-scenes architects of the ADA, Bobby has taken part in several recent events to honor the 30th anniversary of the bill’s passage.
On July 20th, he participated in a virtual meeting hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), in which he shared his thoughts on how and why the ADA made it through the political maze and the role the ADA needs to play moving forward. In his presentation, Bobby discusses the bipartisan support for the bill at the time, as well as the strong involvement of the disability community and the inclusion of state and local governments in conversations surrounding the bill.
Bobby reiterated those sentiments in the most recent issue of Capitol Ideas Magazine, in which he is quoted, saying, “The passage of the ADA occurred during a window of opportunity created by several key factors: strong bipartisan support, a compelling case for change made by both legislators and members of the disability community, the inclusion of all appropriate stakeholders including state and local governments and business interests, and the recognition that civil rights goals needed to be balanced by legitimate community interests.” He goes on to emphasize the impact of the bill on the disability community, noting “from a policy perspective, the ADA boils down to treating people with disabilities with dignity and respect, focusing on individuals’ strengths and abilities, recognizing and celebrating differences, fostering self-determination and removing architectural, communication and transportation barriers.”
Finally, Bobby was included in Congressman Steny Hoyer’s ADA 30th Anniversary video compilation (14:42), in which he calls for reflection on the ADA and continued implementation moving forward.
To see Bobby’s other recent interviews about the ADA, click the links below:
- Santa Fe Public Radio – “Barrier Free Futures”
- Family Café keynote address — “Disability Advocacy: Securing the American Dream for All”
- Women in Government podcast — “Increasing Access & Opportunity: 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act”
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Magazine — “The ADA at 30: Looking Back and Ahead”
For more information on disability policy and advocacy, contact Bobby Silverstein at Bobby.Silverstein@PowersLaw.com.