ADA: Changing Buildings and Attitudes Since 1990
Alter Ur Ego is my baby. I love fashion and every minute of this business so I want to use this entry to celebrate something that has made it possible for me to get this far in my venture; The American’s With Disabilities Act.
The American’s With Disabilities Act is turning 25 this Sunday July 26th. This monumental civil rights law made it illegal for anyone to be discriminated against on the basis of disability; intellectual or physical. I’ve never had to navigate my new life after being injured in a world without ADA. The apartment I live in is tailored to my needs, the Heidicap Accessible van gives me complete freedom and independence, and for the most part I don’t have to worry whether a building will have a ramp, elevator or wide enough door. I am thankful for all those things. ADA broke down structural barriers and physically opened up the world, but the most revolutionary aspect of the Act weren’t building modifications. ADA revolutionized the way we define disability.
Disability is simply another form of diversity. When all members of our society are given the opportunity to contribute everyone wins. From diversity creativity thrives, ideas are built upon and our world is better for it. I came across an article in which psychologist Dan Gottlieb described his experiences as a new quadriplegic before and after ADA (Reflections of the 25th Anniversary of the American’s With Disabilities Act). Dr. Gottlieb wrote about the feelings of isolation when th
e company he worked for refused to build a means for him to get to his office (about 45 steps stood in his way). Instead he was moved to a separate building without stairs. Post ADA Dr Gottlieb was able to access so much more of the city he loved but still he writes:
“The most important thing is people with disabilities are no longer freaks of nature; we are common place. We are finally part of our community”
That’s something everyone can relate to. The need to be acknowledged as a member of their community. As a member of my Kentucky community I plan to celebrate ADA by attending the Lexington Human Rights Commission commemorative event July 30th. This event will feature some awesome presentations and my clothing line will be on display. We’ll also have some information on the Kentucky Congress on Spinal Cord Injury. I’m proud to be a board member of this amazing group and share the work we’re doing to make Kentucky more accessible.
As in any anniversary it’s a time of reflection. ADA has come a long way and there is still more that needs to be done. There are still buildings, parks, and community spaces that myself and my peers are not able to access. In an age where so many Americans are fighting for and winning equality battles it’s an exciting time to witness and strive for the road ahead.
If you’re looking for ADA celebrations in your community check out the ADA Legacy Project website, http://adaanniversary.org. A part of the ADA National Network, the Legacy Project is a great tool to stay connected and find events near you.
We all have stories to tell, let me hear yours. What does ADA mean to you?
Happy Friday everyone!