Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday ADA

I remember twenty years ago when my mother called me to come sit down so she could talk to me. She explained that something wonderful had happened. The Americans with Disabilities Act had passed. That meant that no one could deny me a job because I was disabled. It meant that public buildings would be accessible to me even when a few steps became a problem. It meant that I belonged to a group of people who would no longer be treated as second class citizens or a nuisance to the general public. It was more than just more handicapped parking spaces. It was change.

I'm not saying that the ADA is perfect. There is no way to mandate compassion. So while it may be illegal to discriminate against me because I can't walk up the stairs, it doesn't mean that people don't still roll their eyes at me for being slow. It doesn't mean that people stopped parking in handicapped spaces because they're "only going to be a minute" or even that fines for parking in such spaces are more readily enforced. It simply means that we are people and we deserve to be treated as such.

So today, I thank all the people who drafted the ADA, all the people who supported it. Everyone who made what my mother had always dreamed for me a reality.

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