Obama Celebrates 20 Years of the Americans With Disabilities Act

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

President Obama celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this evening by announcing an update to the “milestone in the journey to equality.”

The president signed an executive order establishing the federal government as a “model employer” of people with disabilities.

“We’re going to boost recruitment, we’re going to boost training, we’re going to boost retention,” Obama said from the South Lawn of the White House this evening, “We’ll better train hiring managers. Each agency will have a senior official who’s accountable for achieving the goals we’ve set. And I expect regular reports. “

The Department of Justice will publish two new rules protecting disability-based discrimination -- prohibiting disability-based discrimination by more than 80,000 state and local government entities, and 7 million private businesses.

The order also instructs that beginning 18 months from now, all new buildings must be constructed in a way that’s compliant with the new 2010 standards for the design of doors, windows, elevators and bathrooms. For the first time, the new rules also will apply to recreational facilities like amusement parks, marinas, gyms, golf facilities and swimming pools.

The president noted that one in six Americans has a disability – and that it touches everyone. He recalled that when he met his father-in-law for the first time, his father-in-law had to use two canes just to walk because he was stricken with MS when he was just 30 years old.

“Equal access. Equal opportunity. The freedom to make our lives what we will. These aren’t principles that belong to any one group or any one political party. They are common principles. They are American principles," Obama said.

The president singled out former President George H.W Bush – not present at the anniversary celebration today but with whom he had spoken to earlier in the day – for his work on the act, and for his signature 20 year ago.

-Sunlen Miller

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