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Special Olympics helps White House celebrate 33 years of ADA and 50 years of the Rehabilitation Act

(left to right) Special Olympics DC athlete and SOI staff member, Novie Craven, President Joe Biden and Special Olympics International (SOI) Chairman Timothy Shriver

On the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being signed by President George Bush (1990), Special Olympics International (SOI) Chairman Timothy Shriver, and Special Olympics DC athlete and SOI staff member, Novie Craven, were present at the White House last week to celebrate the continued achievements of ADA at work in our country. Also being commemorated was the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in which federal agencies are prohibited from discriminating against someone on the basis of having a disability.

"It was amazing to meet President Joe Biden and have him ask me about my experiences as a Special Olympics athletes. I could tell he really wanted to learn more about the movement."
Novie Craven, Special Olympics DC athlete and SOI staff member

The creation of ADA and the Rehabilitation Act were the United States’ first comprehensive civil rights laws that protect people who have disabilities from being discriminated against in public sectors such as employment, transportation, government programs, public accommodations and many other basic, essential services granted to all Americans. The federal government made it clear through the Rehabilitation Act, 17 years before ADA, that discrimination had no place in the American federal system, and this was a precedent made when it was signed into action.

“The Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act have been pivotal in laying the groundwork to make sure people with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities, receive the respect they deserve in all corners of society. It was an honor to celebrate these historic acts with President Biden and my colleague at Special Olympics, Novie Craven.” –
Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Board, Special Olympics International

The White House has a long history of supporting Special Olympics athletes. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden sent a Presidential Delegation, led by Miguel Cardona, the United States Secretary of Education, to Germany to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. Other members of the Delegation included Dr. Amy Gutmann, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Mala Adiga, Deputy Assistant to the President and Policy Director for the First Lady, James Brett, Chair, President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and Ms. Sara Minkara, Special Advisor on International Disability Rights. This support for the Inclusion Revolution both home and abroad is another standard set by the highest leaders of our country that help continue to create more inclusive environments for people with disabilities.

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