Timeline: The path to disability legislation

President George H.W. Bush (center) signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


President George H.W. Bush (center) signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

1945 Bob Dole is wounded while serving in World War II in Italy, leaving him with limited use of his right arm.

1968 Dole, a Republican of Kansas, is elected to the US Senate.


1969 Dole makes his first floor speech on problems faced by people with disabilities. He speaks on the anniversary of his wounding, and will continue to mark the date with a similar speech each year until he leaves office in 1996.

1989 Dole and Senator George Mitchell, a Democrat of Maine, negotiate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Senate passes the bill, 76 to 8; the House passes it the next year.

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1990 President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

2006 President George W. Bush negotiates an international treaty based on the ADA, aimed at encouraging other nations to adopt US standards. The United Nations adopts the text in December.

2012 By this point, the UN treaty is signed by 155 countries and ratified by 129.


July 2012 Criticism of the treaty is aired during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, but the panel approves it, 13 to 6.

December 2012 With Dole in a wheelchair on the Senate floor urging passage, the Senate fails to ratify the disabilities treaty.

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