Why I Celebrate the ADA, but Continue to Fight for More
I thought a lot about the ADA this week as I was getting emails celebrating the anniversary. I am so thankful there were people willing to fight for people living with disabilities. They made changes that were desperately needed. I fortunately didn’t have a disability prior to the ADA. I don’t know the struggles people faced prior to it being passed. It shows that if you fight hard enough, you can make changes.
Sadly, I feel there is still such a long way to go. So many places aren’t accessible and so many of us living with disabilities are afraid it could even get worse. There are lawmakers and businesses that don’t think about these things. They don’t realize how difficult it can be to live in this world if you have a disability. There are also people who care but don’t know what to do to make it better, so they don’t do anything.
I was at a softball game recently for my daughter and I couldn’t get into the bathroom by myself because the door was too heavy. The door had an automatic door opener, but only from the inside, and it was broken. It is much more difficult to pull open a heavy door going up an incline than to push open the door on the way down and out. One of the volunteers helped me and when I came out she was crying and apologized that their city wasn’t accessible. She said it wasn’t fair that people with disabilities had to live like that. It meant a lot to me that someone was so moved by it. I wish more people were moved by it.
I don’t have all the answers and get that changing businesses involves money, but I know it can be done. My dentist office in a very small town is making changes to accommodate by adding a ramp and better signs for their disabled reserved parking. If they can do it, I know others can too.
I would never wish a disability on anyone, but I wish they could ride in a wheelchair or scooter for a day or walk around without being able to see or hear. I guarantee they would be amazed at how much thinking and planning we must do to go out in public places. They would see how hard it is to get inside places, how many places don’t have an automatic door opener, how many automatic door openers don’t work, all the doors that aren’t wide enough, bathroom stalls that aren’t big enough, aisles that aren’t wide enough, ramps that don’t exist, interpreters that aren’t available, captions that don’t exist to be read and so much more.
I pray it doesn’t take another 28 years for people to wake up and realize how many people are being alienated every single day. I hope that together we can make our voices heard, make more changes and not take away the ground that has been made. You may not live with a disability, but it doesn’t mean you can’t fight for those who do.
Getty image by LP Weber.