27 years ago today, the ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities act, was passed. I was three. So while I’ve never known a lifetime without it, it has been within my relatively short lifetime that it was passed. 27 years ago, legalizations to make life better for disabled people happened.
At 30 years old, I am considered totally and permanently disabled. As I am writing this, it’s 1:23 am and I’m listening to Imagine Dragons, trying to come up with words for something I am so passionate about. Accessibility, making life better for disabled people, making sure that people know that our lives are worth LIVING is what gives me life. It’s what I live for. It’s something I can do despite being unable to work. I can volunteer, I can write policies…I can do things.
At the same time, we have a LONG way to go, America. Disabilities are still a barrier to many things. And frankly, a lot of places don’t give a crap about being ADA compliant. A lot of people have the knee jerk reaction of “well, just sue!” A lot of disabled people aren’t capable of suing. Some of us aren’t physically able, some of us aren’t cognitively able. Some of us will lose health insurance if we win a lawsuit.
The ADA is incredible in theory, but in execution? For an act that’s 27 years old, it needs a LOT of work. For those of us that have invisible disabilities, it is light years from where it needs to be. It isn’t perfect for physical disabilities, mind you, but invisible disabilities? For example, think of the most well known disability sign. It’s obviously for PHYSICAL. Invisible disabilities are often ignored and pushed aside. My neurodivergence is as much of a disability as my physical impairments.
Disabled people are still denied jobs, because they’re disabled. “But that’s illegal!” you cry. “But it STILL BLOODY HAPPENS”, I retort. We’re denied housing. If certain changes to the ACA happen, we’ll be denied health insurance.
Did you know that dating back to 2007, and even EARLIER, activists have been fighting to change the ADA? Did you know that the ADA still leaves disabled people behind? Did you know that places, oh, lie about accessibility? Yep, they do.
This is America in 2017. And it’s hallowing to think that on the 27th anniversary of the ADA, I still have to remind people that disabled lives are worth living. That we DESERVE to be a protected class. That we NEED better lives and DESERVE better lives. That the ADA, despite all the GOOD it has done, still needs a LOT of work.
Some day, we shall overcome.
Some day, the world will be accessible.
I just hope and pray that’s during my lifetime.