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Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a watershed piece of legislation which enshrines in law a social promise of equality and inclusion into all facets of life, while offering an inspiring model that much of the world has come to embrace. This editorial launches JAMA’s theme issue on the 25th anniversary of the ADA by detailing the Act’s history, main provisions, and far-reaching impacts on health, providing a context for the three Original Investigations and six scholarly Viewpoints that make up the theme issue. The editorial begins with a discussion of the ADA’s history, highlighting the indispensable role of the broad disability rights coalition. The editorial then turns to an overview of the law and its main provisions, before discussing its domestic impact, both in integrating those with disabilities into society and reducing discrimination in health care settings—while acknowledging the law’s unfinished business. Finally, the editorial examines the international influence the ADA has had before concluding by highlighting what remains to be done to integrate those with disabilities fully into American society and calling for the U.S. to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Publication Citation

313 JAMA 2231-2235 (2015)