And only about 650 lawsuits were filed in the ADA 's first five years - a small number compared to 6 million businesses, 666,000 public and private employers, and 80,000 units of state and local governments that must comply.
Law Professor Peter Blanck of the University of Iowa has studied business compliance with the ADA, including Sears Roebuck and many other large businesses, and found that compliance was often as easy as raising or lowering a desk, installing a ramp, or modifying a dress code.
Another survey found that three-quarters of all changes cost less than $100.
a policy that dates to the 1960s when Medicare and Medicaid were created.
This policy forces many people to live in nursing homes instead of at home, where they say they'd rather be in order to participate in their communities and, for many, obtain employment.
Another problem has been contradictory federal policies that actually make it difficult for people with disabilities to work.
Under current Social Security regulations, a person with a disability is allowed to enroll in Medicare, but can earn only a few hundred dollars a month.
The ADA's civil rights protections are parallel to those that have previously been established by the federal government for women and racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
"The ADA is solely about 'equal opportunity', from its preamble to its final provision: like other civil rights laws, the ADA prohibits discrimination and mandates that Americans be accorded equality in pursuing jobs, goods, services and other opportunities -- but the ADA makes clear that equal treatment is not synonymous with identical treatment, says Professor Robert Burgdorf Jr., one of the drafters of the original bill that became the ADA.
Curb cuts designed for wheelchair users are also used by people with baby carriages, delivery people, and people on skateboards and roller blades.
With the Baby Boom generation poised to enter the population of seniors, the number of Americans needing access and universal design will grow enormously.