Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today marks 30 years of the ADA. I am what’s known as the ADA Generation. That means that I lived after the Americans With Disabilities Act passed in 1990. I didn’t experience what some of my community has. As a woman with a disability, I’ve personally experienced the rights it has granted me. I witness them— getting coffee with friends, going to educational institutions, or even to the pharmacy. The power of the ADA is evident.
There is so much that I can thank the ADA for today. While I feel so thankful, I’m feeling such a sense of emotions for disabled people who didn’t have the ADA to protect them. These are the people who fought endlessly for us at the Capitol Crawl via Adapt. I shared about this on my Facebook page. If you’re not familiar, I’m going to link to that story here.
Mostly, I have been lost in thoughts about how the pre-ADA generation fought for access and legal rights when there wasn’t that protection. I know many people who were not apart of the ADA Generation. In particular, I have a relative who was not apart of this generation. Her experience growing up was not like mine. Her disability was onset from birth — and we have discussed ways which we have experienced ableism. I was always curious in how the experience of being disabled was like without legal protection of access..
Without the ADA, she had to fight for access to education. She didn’t have the ramps or ability to demand access. It wasn’t illegal. There was no way to say that she had a legal right to get access to it. I was not apart of this experience.
I think of them today. I honor them. I mourn with them. I think of that last sentence because I wonder how many disabled people suffered due to the ADA not existing. How would my experience look in the 80s?
I think too of how many disabled people have experienced protection and fostered an ability to defend themselves because of it. I know mine my disability experience is better because I am apart of the ADA Generation.
I have felt blessed in many ways for this because I think often of how life would have looked for me (as a wheelchair user especially) if I didn’t have the ADA. I think of my loved one’s experience, of the stories shared by advocates, and even the experiences shared in ‘Crip Camp’ (a powerful documentary on Netflix) of the pre-ADA generation.
While the ADA still has ways to go (and I would never deny this), I cannot deny the impacts it has made on the lives of the disability community. It’s a good thing to remember when we are fighting for disability justice. At times like these, I want to remember the people in our community who have championed for us and still are.
So much of my experience is dependent upon wheelchair access, needing physical access, and knowing that I have legal rights to accessibility in these physical spaces.
At this time, I think of businesses that must meet the ADA requirements for access. If it weren’t for the ADA, I would not be able to frequent many places I love. I wouldn’t be able to get access to them. It’s a reminder that everyday, I am thankful for the headway that we have made and the impacts made.
There is a lot to celebrate today, but mostly I celebrate knowing that the ADA has paved ways for the disabled community— and continues to do so. I await to see the ADA make progress in the future.
Today I celebrate the #ADA30 by celebrating the impacts we have made together, will make, and uplifting the celebration today. On my Instagram, I will be sharing videos of some disability advocacy this weekend related to the ADA in regards to how it makes me personally feel. I think it’s important for us to celebrate onwards into the weekend. I’ll also be sharing a selfie of me with a personal nod today in regards to #ADA30. I encourage you to do the same!
For some important reading, I urge you to check out Alice Wong’s blog for her focus on ADA pieces on diversity (because diversity is important) as well as watch the video linked below:
Happy 30th Anniversary ADA! What a celebratory weekend that we’re going to have during #DisabilityPrideMonth — and especially during #SBYDisabilityPrideMonth at that!