The History of the ADA & Its Relevance for Your Business


Over the past 60 years, the United States Congress has passed several pieces of legislation promoting equality for all individuals. While these legal actions took place in stages to protect various people groups, they each work to create equal opportunities for people, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, disability, or familial status.

The History of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. This was a landmark piece of legislation because it was the first comprehensive law in the world that acted to protect the rights of individuals of those with physical and mental disabilities. It was a bipartisan effort across all branches of government that has had a dramatic impact on preventing discrimination towards people with disabilties.

In the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement produced legal action to create equality for minorities and women, but those with disabilities were unfortunately not protected by those laws. Some of the laws protecting women and minorities were the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which amended the Act of 1964.

The 1970s brought the first pieces of legislation that began the road to the passing of the comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provided federal financial assistance for those with disabilities in federal programs, and in 1975, the Education of Handicapped Children Act was passed to ensure equal access to education for children with disabilities.

Only two years before the passing of the ADA, The Fair Housing Act was amended in 1988 to include prohibiting discrimination towards those with disabilities in relation to housing. After the original passing of the ADA, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) amended it to more broadly define what “disability” means in relation to legislation and define the intent of the ADA as a whole.

In 2010, the Department of Justice published an updated ADA Standards for Accessible Design, known as the 2010 Standards. These Standards outline the current regulations for compliance in physical spaces and signage standards, which is what our team at Acorn uses to create ADA-compliant signage.

The ADA’s Relevance for Your Business

The Americans with Disabilities Act outlines several regulations for businesses and organizations to prevent discrimination towards those with mental or physical disabilties. The ADA is applicable to all businesses or organizations that are open to the public or operate in public spaces. Compliance with the ADA greatly benefits you because it allows you to interact with and offer services to all people so that everyone can benefit from your business.

In addition to solely following compliance, it creates opportunities for you to provide clarity and improve wayfinding systems throughout your built environment. When you are required to evaluate different and new ways to interact with your physical space, it can lead to innovation. When we work with clients on their ADA-compliant signage, we analyze new ways to implement wayfinding that is accessible and inclusive of all people in your building.

Here at Acorn, we believe that business should be about more than profits. As a certified B Corporation, we have dedicated our work to not just profits, but social and environmental responsibility. Signage plays a crucial role in accessibility in built environments, so we specialize in developing signage that is compliant with all ADA standards. When our clients come to us with projects, they can be confident in the knowledge that we provide innovative products that will also help their physical space become more accessible and inclusive.

If you have questions about our process and how we accomplish these goals, we would love to talk with you. Contact us today at



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *