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Obama marks 25th anniversary of federal disability act

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 20, 2015. Obama spoke regarding the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he said has ushered in a “bright new era of equality, freedom and independence” for millions of Americans.

Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden during a White House reception to commemorate the law.

“Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life — schools, workplaces, movie theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks — they truly belong to everyone,” Obama said.

He said the ADA is especially personal, as his father-in-law, Fraser Robinson, had to deal with his own obstacles after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 30s and required crutches.

The president also recognized former Sen. Bob Dole, former Congressman Tony Coelho, State Department Special Adviser Judy Heumann and other advocates of rights for the disabled.

“Days like today are a celebration of our history,” Obama said. “But they’re also a chance to rededicate ourselves to the future — to address the injustices that still linger, to remove the barriers that remain.”

The White House outlined government commitments to improve employment, education, health and housing policies affecting disabled Americans.

They include a collaboration between the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to streamline investigations of discrimination complaints and boost outreach and training.

Next month, the Social Security Administration will award $20 million to organizations that help people with disabilities understand the work incentives available under the Social Security Act and encourage them to return to the workforce.

Also, the Federal Transit Administration will release guidance this summer on ADA requirements for transportation facility designs, bus and rail services and paratransit services for the disabled.

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