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News & Announcements


Reflection on the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

July 26, 2020 is the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark civil rights legislation for people with disabilities. As we mark this day with gratitude to all who advocated and worked tirelessly for its passage, we must express our gratitude to John Lewis for his contributions to the Civil Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Addressing racial civil rights provided the framework and template upon which the ADA was structured. We know that although both laws have made fundamental changes in our society, we have yet to fully realize the civil and human rights of all people.

President H.W. Bush signs the ADA of 1990The ADA became law when it was signed by President George H.W. Bush, on a beautiful, sunny day at a White House Ceremony, pictured here. The joy and majesty of the day, the realization of so much hard and intense advocacy and sacrifice by so many people with disabilities and their allies was for me, enriched by the serendipity of waiting to go through White House Security, standing next to Fred Schroeder, then the Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in New Mexico. As we moved through the entry check and throughout the ceremony, the privilege of being able to describe to Fred, who is blind, the visual elements of the day, contributed to that day and the vividness of embedded memory, deeply treasured to this day so many years later.

Justin Dart, seen here with his ubiquitous hat, a reminder of his Texas roots, is considered to be the “Father of the ADA.” He and his wife Yoshiko, deeply influenced by Gandhi, always acted on the principle “find your own truth and live it.” In 1988, Justin Dart and Elizabeth M. Boggs, for whom The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities is named, were appointed to chair the Congressional Task Force on the Rights of Americans with Disabilities.” The Task Force’s strategy to gather direct accounts from people with disabilities on the discrimination they had experienced, is widely believed to be the final impetus for the many years’ long struggle to get the ADA passed and become the law of the United States.

Many of the changes the ADA has created are visible in the built environment, in telecommunications, and in public accommodations. The ADA is the basis of the 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court decision, recognizing community services and supports as a public accommodation, and creating the standard that unnecessary segregation in congregate institutions is a form of discrimination. Over time, we have seen attacks on the ADA, through legislation and court decisions, attempting to mitigate the rights of people with disabilities. The employment of people with disabilities, a cornerstone of the ADA, has made some difference in preventing discrimination, yet most people with disabilities remain unemployed or underemployed.

At this time in our nation’s history, as the COVID pandemic is ravishing the world disproportionately affecting people of color and people with disabilities and the imperative to address the racial injustice in our society can no longer be ignored, we are called, in the words of Justin Dart, to practice “[T]he politics of principle, solidarity, and love.”

Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations’ Professors Douglas Kruse and Lis Schur, have pointed out that when you combine the number of people with disabilities and the number of people who live with a family member with disabilities, if galvanized could represent a voting block approaching 28% of the electorate. Turnout of voters with disability is 6% lower than other parts of the electorate, much of which can be attributed to inaccessibility of many polling places.

Let us celebrate and preserve the ADA and the civil and human rights of all people by heeding Justin Dart’s words: “get into politics as if your life depended on it. It does.”

Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD
Executive Director, The Boggs Center and NJLEND
July 26, 2020


AUCD Releases Video Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the ADA


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for AllIn celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 2020, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities released a brief video featuring guests reflecting on the ADA. Guests interviewed by Liz Weintraub include Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, The Boggs Center; Aaron Combs, Walmart; Neil Romano, National Council on Disability; Rachel Mueller, Advocate; Shelly Christensen, Author; Senator Tammy Duckworth; and Tawara Goode, Georgetown University. AUCD’s Tuesdays with Liz is a weekly video series highlighting current issues in disability policy.
Watch the video

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Information and Resources Related to COVID-19

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) CDC imageAcross the world, we are experiencing an unprecedented set of challenges as we all work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing and other protective measures. Having reliable, up to date information and resources to help us better understand COVID-19, necessary health and hygiene precautions, and strategies to maintain emotional well-being is important to us all. 

The Boggs Center, as New Jersey’s federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) and New Jersey’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, has compiled a selection of resources from New Jersey and across the country that may be useful to the disability community across the state. 

View links to COVID-19 resources



COVID-19 Update Related to Boggs Center Events


Updated April 17, 2020


  • In effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus and protect those who are most vulnerable, Boggs Center events have either been moved online or are postponed in compliance with Rutgers University’s directives related to public events.

  • Please refer to the following links for program and training specific information:

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