July 26 marks a momentous anniversary for persons with disabilities living in the United States. On that day in 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the first legislation of its kind focused solely on prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities and mandating that all Americans be accorded equality in pursuing jobs, goods, services and other opportunities.
The ADA has radically improved the lives of those living with disabilities over the last 25 years, especially in the areas of accessibility, education, and employment. However, laws can only protect individuals from institutionalized discrimination. Twenty-five years later, forms of discrimination can still be seen to a greater or lesser extent in American societal attitudes – perhaps even more so in attitudes toward and fears about those with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.