Last year, I indicated how difficult it was to put in words how much I appreciate the Americans With Disabilities Act. This year, after dealing with many forms of discrimination, trying to grow into my own person as an adult and starting the process of fighting many battles on my own, I appreciate the ADA, but struggle a little more when talking about it because I believe there is room for improvement.
It’s outrageous that we have to put be laws in place to start acceptance of certain groups in society. Often these laws have amazing qualities and intentions, but also have stipulations that don’t account for the whole picture. I’m thankful the ADA most likely helped me get further along than an elementary education, even though I no longer need educational accommodations as I finish up my bachelor’s degree. I’m thankful I got to grow up and experience life with my family instead of being forced into an institution like many people who came before me.
I’m thankful for the ability to start my own independent dreams and family one day, but lack of access still makes that a daily emotional and physical struggle. I’m thankful for buildings that are accessible enough for me to somewhat adapt or find my way around, but my heart definitely hurts when coming across buildings that aren’t accessible or were grandfathered in, so owners only have to make their establishment accessible if they can afford it or frankly care to understand the importance of the law. It feels like a slap in the face as we want to work to be an inclusive society (as we should be), but there are still many situations where people with disabilities are forced into feeling like outcasts or expected to be grateful for the limited opportunities we have.
I am thankful for the equipment I’m given to live life, but the fight for it is unnecessarily exhausting. I am thankful for the chances the ADA has given me and so many others, but it is our turn, as successful and supportive adults, to make important improvements for the younger generations.
Happy 29th year to the Americans With Disabilities Act. Thank you for making me into the fierce and hopeful adult I am today. I believe not only all public places should be accessible, but homes and cars should be built to be accessible as well. I believe it is the only way we can start to be respected and see our equal value in this world. Times change and our standards of accessibility should change too.
We have a long way to go, but 29 years of awareness has made our dreams possible, noticeable and admirable.