As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), my #IWantToWork colleagues and I are reflecting on what the ADA means to us, and the opportunities it creates for our lives. Each of us lives with a life-changing, but thanks in large part to the ADA, a not life-inhibiting disability. My reflection is the first of four parts.
As a 25-year-old young adult, I don’t remember life without the ADA. I am very fortunate to have grown up with this law in place, as it gives me, and will continue to give me, access to many opportunities I would otherwise be denied.
Besides general access to public places, it gave me the right to be mainstreamed in my education, alongside my peers. It made it possible for a lift to be put on the back of a full-sized school bus, so that I could ride to school with my peers. As a result of these things, I developed the confidence and independence I needed. I believe that’s vital for everyone, but especially for people with disabilities.
As I am getting ready to move into my own house this fall, the ADA ensures that the house will be accessible, and that I have access to things I need to be independent, just like everyone else.
In addition, the ADA gave me the opportunity to participate in recreational activities. When I was 12, I started ice-skating regularly in my power wheelchair with my sister and our friends. After the ice-skating rink’s safety monitors tried to chase me off the ice, my mom did research, and found out that the ADA prohibited them from denying me the chance to skate. She gave me the ADA papers to carry in my backpack whenever I skated. The rink got so used to me being there, they approached me and asked me to do a news interview after I became statistician for a local girls ice hockey team with my sister.
By Alexa Brill
(As we celebrate a quarter century of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the #IWantToWork campaign is proud of our inspirational staff. These four young adults show every day that living with a disability does not have to be a barrier to being a successful, contributing member of society.)