The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by then-President George H.W. Bush, and it has been the law of the land ever since. It was even re-energized and augmented by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which was signed into law by the elder Bush's son.

The ADA transformed Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which governed only businesses working on government contracts, into a nationwide mandate not only not to discriminate against the disabled — but further on the positive front to embrace, hire and accommodate the disabled as productive, respective members of society.

The organization Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund on its Web site explains on what a sea change in public thinking the passage of the ADA represented:

Section 504 was also historic because for the first time people with disabilities were viewed as a class — a minority group. Previously, public policy had been characterized by addressing the needs of particular disabilities by category based on diagnosis. Each disability group was seen as separate, with differing needs. Section 504 recognized that while there are major physical and mental variations in different disabilities, people with disabilities as a group faced similar discrimination in employment, education and access to society. People with disabilities were seen as a legitimate minority, subject to discrimination and deserving of basic civil rights protections.

The White House is slated to mark the occasion at 8 a.m. EDT today, which will be available for Web viewing on White House Live.