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ATTORNEYS GENERAL RENO AND THORNBURGH JOIN TO CELEBRATE THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Attorneys General, past and present, joined together today to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), hail its success and set the record straight. "This is a common sense law that is making America more accessible to millions of persons with disabilities," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "Without this law, millions of Americans would be shut out of the mainstream of society." Passed with broad bipartisan support and signed into law five years ago tomorrow, the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, state and local governments, telecommunications, public accommodations and transportation. "The ADA is a success story. Its enactment is one of the prime achievements of the Bush Administration during my tenure as Attorney General," said former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. "Its vigorous and effective enforcement is a tribute to the commitment of the Clinton Administration and the tenure of Janet Reno." The Justice Department, which enforces several provisions of the Act, has settled more than 350 cases since the law went into effect and has been party to 20 suits. "Our nation's civil rights laws have long received bipartisan support -- and the ADA is no different," added Reno. The former and present top law enforcement officials spoke at "Voices of Freedom: America Speaks Out on ADA," where they heard from individuals with disabilities talk about how the law has made a difference in their daily lives. Individuals with disabilities representing each of the 50 states attended the National Press Club event, sponsored by the National Council on Disability. Referring to the representatives with disabilities, Reno said, "You are the ambassadors for access. You are the ones whose stories must echo through the land and grace the pages of our newspapers. You are the ones who can demonstrate that businesses should achieve access not just because it is the law -- but because it is the right thing to do -- and because it is good for business." Reno and Thornburgh used the occasion to debunk several myths about the law and set forth the facts, including: ​ The ADA has resulted in surprisingly few suits -- only about 650 nationwide since the law was passed; ​ The ADA only requires a change to be made where it can be

done without much difficulty or expense or where it will not result in an undue burden; ​ ​ Accommodating employees with disabilities can be done at little or no expense; and, The Justice Department seeks voluntary compliance through education and negotiation before resorting to litigation. A recent study commissioned by Sears indicates that of 436 reasonable accommodations provided by the company, 69% cost nothing, 28% cost less than $1,000, and only 3% cost more than $1,000. Last year Reno launched a national campaign to educate Americans about their rights and obligations under the ADA. The campaign, which includes television and radio public service announcements, promotes a toll-free ADA information line. The number is 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). # # # 95-414