WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama marked yesterday's 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by promising to boost government efforts at recruiting, hiring and retaining people with physical and mental limitations.

In a sun-splashed ceremony on the White House South Lawn, Obama signed an executive order requiring the federal personnel agency to develop model guidelines for hiring people with disabilities, and announced other measures:

The Justice Department is publishing new rules to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities by more than 80,000 state and local government agencies and 7 million private businesses.

Beginning in 2012, all new construction must meet enhanced standards for doors, windows, elevators and bathrooms. The requirement covers everything from stores and restaurants to schools, stadiums, hospitals, hotels and theaters.

New federal rules being drafter would ensure better access to websites.

"Not dependence, but independence," Obama said. "That's what the [disabilities law] was all about."

The Americans with Disabilities Act banned workplace discrimination against qualified people with disabilities and required improved access to public places and transportation.- AP

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