It was 20 years ago today (July 26, 2010, then 1990) that President George H.W. Bush signed into law the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

After court decisions had whittled down the scope of the ADA through the years, Congress sought to restore the robust ADA that the authors had envisioned and in 2008 passed the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), which is to this day awaiting the approval of final regulations (stuck in review at the Office of Management and Budget ((OMB)) since the fourth quarter of 2009). Ironically or otherwise, it was the first President Bush’s son, George W. Bush, who signed the ADAAA into law.

“The EEOC is proud of its enforcement efforts under the ADA for the past 20 years, moving forward to fulfill the nation’s promise to give all Americans opportunity, dignity and respect in the workplace,” said EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien during a ceremony this past Thursday. “The ADA did not erase all of our challenges, but we have learned over the years, as we also celebrate the 45th anniversary of the EEOC’s founding this month, that the American workplace has changed for the better.”

President Obama is expected to host a commemorative event at the White House this evening.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking to expand the ADA to areas of high technology that didn’t exist when the ADA was inked, requiring Web sites  to adopt voice recognition and 911 call centers to add text and video messaging to 911 call centers.

The NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) issued by the EEOC in September 2009, which will become the basis of the ADAAA final regulations when finally released, created a rather broad and all-encompassing definition of disability that is already reverberating in the workplace.

Fortunately, Personnel Concepts has written and made available an important and all-encompassing ADA Amendments Act Compliance Kit that will guide employers through understanding and implementing provisions of the ADAAA. Get yours today to honor the letter and spirit of the original ADA.