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Celebrate the ADA 31st Anniversary - Americans with Disabilities Act - July 2021

Last summer, amidst the COVID pandemic, a groundbreaking civil rights law quietly turned 30. Due to 2020’s health concerns most public gatherings and celebrations were put on hold, and LIFE at RCIL (Living Independently is for Everyone at RCIL) was unable to publicly commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). LIFE at RCIL celebrates the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act every year because, as former Arizona Senator John Kyl once said, it is “a celebration of the uniquely American notion that all of our citizens can contribute to society if we provide them with the tools and opportunities they need.”

On July 26th, 1990, the ADA was signed into law. It prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life; requiring employers, as well as public entities, including schools, restaurants, public transportation, health care and communication providers to offer full access to the services and programs enjoyed by most Americans.

But after 30 years, is the ADA still relevant and effective? Can communities continue to move forward based on the protections contained in the ADA? In short, how are we doing?

Those questions are not always easy to answer. There are no mandatory reporting requirements surrounding the ADA as there are in other civil rights laws because the ADA is a “voluntary compliance law”; the expectation being that all affected will support the law. However, this has not always been the case. There are revolutionary changes in the way that people with disabilities were recognized in the ADA’s groundbreaking legislation that shook up a society who all too often failed to acknowledge the existence of over 13% of the U.S. population.

Over the ADA’s 30-year history people with disabilities have continued to be marginalized and faced resistance when they have attempted to move forward. In 1999, the Supreme Court narrowed the ADA’s definition of what “disability” is and who could benefit under the statute, essentially restricting access to a law that promised to eliminate discrimination. In 2008, Congress passed new legislation that refined that decision and determined that the ADA was intended to be an inclusive document that opened society’s doors.

But despite the push and pull between those who think that the ADA did not go far enough, and those who think the ADA went too far, people with disabilities are continuing to press on, continuing to successfully utilize this 30-year-old legislation, living full active lives within their communities and the wider world.

Ultimately, the ADA has been both the foundation and the doorway that has enabled many Americans to access significant opportunities. The access requirements outlined in the ADA have changed how people with disabilities vote, travel, obtain education, communicate, work, and socialize. But the issues still facing people with disabilities cannot all be legislated away or solved by installing a ramp. Some lingering societal biases may take longer to eradicate.

There is an entire generation of optimistic young Americans with disabilities who have come to believe in equal opportunity due to the sweeping reforms contained within the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even as we continue to encourage proactive changes in our society, the ADA remains an effective means for all of us to help change American life for the better.

LIFE at RCIL Advocates want to ensure that your rights to live independently and have equal access and opportunities to participate in our communities are respected. Employment Specialists are available to assist individuals with disabilities who are looking for employment. Employers who are interested in hiring individuals with disabilities are also encouraged to give us a call. Contact LIFE at RCIL at 315-797-4642 or toll-free at 1-800-627-2981.  


CARES ACT, Independent Living (IL) Fund provides pandemic related financial assistance for independent living services/supplies/equipment, when no other funding can be found.

Living Independently is For Everyone at RCIL (LIFE at RCIL) is committed to assuring you have the services and support you need to live independently. Disruptions caused by the Pandemic pose additional and sometimes more significant challenges for individuals with disabilities who rely on home and community-based services to maintain that independence. If you are an individual with a disability or the parent of a child with a disability experiencing Pandemic-related disruptions due to school closures or loss of employment, you may be eligible to apply for CARES Act IL Funds. This assistance is intended to provide help, where no other source of funding for the needed service, supply, or equipment can be identified. Image of a family outdoors wearing masks. Mom has hands on dad and daughter, dad is in wheelchair and looking at his daughter

If you are already working with an RCIL/LIFE staff person, let them know you are interested in hearing more about the CARES Act Fund and to complete an application if eligible. If you are not yet benefitting from services offered through our agency, including the CARES Act Fund, call one of our locations nearest you for more information and assistance.

  • Utica – Gene Hughes   (315) 368-5625
  • Herkimer – Donna Gillette   (315) 866-7245  Ext. 5800
  • Amsterdam – Lisa Mastracco (518) 770-7636



The recent racially motivated killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others are the latest incidents of racist attacks against Black people in America.

RCIL is a civil rights organization fighting for the rights of individuals with disabilities to live, work and participate in the community.

Racism and discrimination of any form must not be tolerated, and significant change is long overdue. Dehumanizing people makes us all weak.

We stand with the Black community against racism and the inequalities in America, that disproportionally affect communities of color and disabled individuals.

We encourage everyone to vote in every upcoming election to support candidates that will force change.

Signature of Zvia McCormick


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Under legislation signed by Governor Cuomo, New York workers are guaranteed job protection and financial compensation while they are on a mandatory or precautionary quarantine order due to COVID-19.  Please click on the button below for more information.

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Your life. Your decisions.

At the Resource Center for Independent Living (RCIL), we believe that to live independently you don't need permission, you need resources.

At RCIL, we provide real solutions to the personal, social or governmental barriers that may prevent your decisions from being respected and realized. We have three decades of experience in providing individually tailored advocacy, information, and training services.

RCIL believes that the widespread poverty, segregation, and isolation of people with disabilities is unacceptable, should not be tolerated, and requires change.



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This document was developed under grant CFDA 93.778 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.