How Do We Celebrate 30 Years of the ADA?

A Letter From the Managing Directors

Dear DRA Supporters, Clients and Friends,

2020 is here and we’re gearing up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.  DRA, founded three years after the ADA was passed, has used this important law as a tool for nearly three decades to bring about critical justice for people with disabilities seeking education, transportation, emergency preparedness, healthcare and more. 

How does DRA celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA?  We’ve got big plans:

  • We identify the biggest barriers preventing people with disabilities from participating equally in society and we dismantle them;
  • We throw a big celebratory gala on Thursday, October 29th at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco; and
  • We launch a search for an Executive Director who can lead DRA into the next decade.

This year, DRA is proud to be taking on some of the biggest, most important issues impacting people with disabilities across the country:

  • Immigration: DRA filed nationwide class action lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), challenging ICE’s systemic, discriminating policies, procedures and conditions negatively impacting immigrants with disabilities;
  • Transportation: DRA is waging battle in a series of lawsuits against New York’s MTA aimed at ensuring that someday soon New Yorkers will have access to reliable stair-free routes through all 472 subway stations; and
  • Education: DRA filed a precedent-setting suit against Chicago Public Schools challenging the districts’ discriminatory policy of denying free nutrition programs to students with disabilities.

This is the tip of the iceberg.  In 2020, DRA will continue to fight for equal access to voting, housing, juvenile and criminal justice, emergency preparedness, and technology (including ridesharing) for people with disabilities. 

And we will continue to succeed!  We’re happy to share, in the impact report below, that, the New York Police Department has just been held accountable for discrimination against people with disabilities by shutting them out of police precincts. 

We look forward to sharing more civil rights victories, more details about our gala, and our Executive Director search in the weeks and months ahead. 

For now, we want to thank you all for your continued support and let you know that we remain committed to fulfilling the promise of the ADA so that everyone can participate equally. 


Kate Hamilton, Stuart Seaborn, and Michelle Caiola
Image: Pictures and signatures for Kate Hamilton, Stuart Seaborn, and Michelle Caiola


Impact Report

Concrete stairs inside a subway station, flanked by metal handrails and tiled walls. A sign above says "Exit, 72 Street & Central Park West, SW corner."
Image: New York Subway Stairs by Derek Key, CC BY 2.0

DRA continues to make strong progress in our cases against the MTA in New York City. The recent discovery hearing illustrated how the MTA can claim to be working towards full system-wide accessibility while still fighting tooth and nail in the courtroom.


Composite photo of inaccessible NYC police precinct entrances. Right: stairs and front door of Manhattan's 10th precinct. Left: stairs and front door of Brooklyn's 70th precinct.
Image: Two pictures of inaccessible NYPD station entrances

This month, a federal judge issued a major ruling holding the NYPD liable for discrimination against people with disabilities by shutting them out of police precincts, saying: “In the thirty years since passage of the ADA the City of New York and NYPD have made little progress eliminating physical barriers to access to NYPD’s police stations.” Read DRA’s press release.


View from behind bars inside ICE detention center
Image: View from behind bars inside ICE detention center

Later this month, there will be a hearing in DRA’s nationwide case against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which will address whether plaintiffs’ claims can move forward. Filed in August 2019, this critical lawsuit challenges ICE’s failure to ensure detained immigrants receive appropriate medical and mental health care, its punitive use of segregation, and its failure to ensure that detained immigrants with disabilities are provided accommodations.