As I sit and reflect on the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I think about both how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to come. I think about the great people, some of whom I’ve been privileged to meet who have lead and accomplished great things, and I think about those who, unfortunately, have not fully understood the value of maximum societal inclusion for all people no matter the bodies in which we live.
Mostly, however, I think about my daughter. How has all of this affected her? In short, what impact has her lifetime exposure to the ADA had on my almost 11 year old daughter, perhaps not coincidentally, named, Hope?
For starters, it is my hope and most days my belief, that exposure lowers the barriers to inclusion and, ultimately, acceptance. If I have access to buildings, and the people therein, I have the opportunity to become part of the community. Access, while not everything, is no small thing. When you sit across from someone, things begin to change. I am no longer the object of a regulation or law, I’m Chris. This doesn’t always work perfectly of course but, it’s a start not possible without access.
People of all types come and go freely. We interact together, go to school together, work together, and more. As I’ve long contended, “Barriers are broken down by relationship.” Relationship, in its best form, leads to friendship. Friendship which when deep and true refuses to yield until everyone is inside our shared circle of life and love. This is my hope; a hope which extends from me to my daughter, out into her world, to others, and beyond.
This is civil rights of any kind and, for me, as a disabled person, this is ADA.