Illustration by Doug Davis

I don’t remember where I was when the ADA was signed, but I do remember the first time I was congratulated about it.

December 1990 — the office Christmas party at my first job out of college. The type of scene that the film Office Space would satirize a few years later: stale store-bought cookies, nonalcoholic punch served at room temperature in paper cups, and long-winded holiday greetings from the CEO and his various underlings. The economy sucked, we were on the brink of war with Iraq, and most people at the company were being kept awake by fears that they would be caught up in the next round of layoffs. Morale was low.

During this party I found myself sitting next to one of the department managers. In my year-and-a-half at the company, I had spoken to this guy maybe three times, but now he was coming on as if we were best buds from childhood.

“So have you heard about this ADA thing?” he asked. “You know, the America Disability Act?”

I ado