Skip to content

Episode 70: Celebration of the ADA Anniversary – a conversation with Senator Tom Harkin

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Episode 70 Resources: Celebration of the ADA Anniversary – A Conversation with Senator Tom Harkin

Recording & Transcripts



Episode 70 Transcript (PDF file)
Transcripción en español (PDF file)


Tom Harkin, American politician, attorney and author and former United States Senator (1985 to 2015), Harkin Institute at Drake University


The Honorable Tom Harkin – former Senator and Congressman, veteran, author, attorney, and chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), will be the featured guest on the July 3, 2019 broadcast of the ADA Live!, a podcast produced by the Syracuse University Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) |  Southeast ADA Center. University Professor Peter Blanck, Chairman of BBI, will interview Sen. Harkin in celebration of the 29th anniversary of this historic civil rights legislation.

Considered the “Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities,” the ADA changed the landscape of America by prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in all aspects of public life, including employment, schools, transportation, local government programs, and places of public accommodation. To preserve the intent of the ADA after court rulings weakened its standards, Harkin and former Senator Orrin Hatch introduced the ADA Amendments Act to ensure continuing protections from discrimination for all Americans with disabilities. It was signed into law in 2008.

In the podcast, Harkin will discuss how the ADA legislation came about, its impact over the last 29 years, and the future of civil rights protections for the more than 60 million people with disabilities living in the United States.

Featured Organization

The Harkin Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research institute located at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. It was founded by Senator Tom Harkin in 2013, shortly after the Senator announced his intention to retire from the Senate in 2015. The Harkin Institute exists to inform citizens, inspire creative cooperation, and catalyze change on issues of social justice, fairness, and opportunity. Founded on the premise that good public policy is best achieved when (1) policymakers have access to high quality information, (2) political processes are open and well understood, and (3) citizens are informed and active participants, the Harkin Institute offers programming, experiences, research, and connectivity focused on the areas that defined Senator Harkin’s career.

The Harkin Institute’s policy priorities are divided into four areas.

  • People with Disabilities
  • Retirement Security
  • Wellness and Nutrition
  • Labor and Employment

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement goals are (1) First, the institute will facilitate collaborative, high-quality, nonpartisan, multi-disciplinary public policy research and analysis dedicated to the issues that defined Senator Tom Harkin’s legislative career, including labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition, and (2) Second, The Harkin Institute will foster active and informed citizen engagement in public decision making and public policy making through education and outreach that expands the knowledge and understanding of these issue areas among students, scholars and the public.