This year the ADA, which was designed to give equal access to the disabled, turns 30. Yet still, we live in a segregated society. As a person with a disability, where I live is not decided by my choice as an American but instead by the state and federal government when they decide which communities are given transportation funding. In many states, these decisions are made based on urban and rural transportation needs.
With the larger disabled population living in urban areas, those who choose to live in rural areas are often left behind. If their smaller town does not have transportation funding, the ADA is rendered useless. You cannot become a productive, useful member of society if you cannot get to the larger society.
How can the rural disabled voice be heard, if they can not get to meetings to use that voice? Yes, there is Zoom, and you can send in your opinion in writing, but in my mind, that voice is even more powerful when it is in front of you loudly demanding to be heard. And what of those who can not get to the polling place which tends to be further away in rural areas. It kind of makes those accessible voting booths useless, doesn’t it?
I can move, I agree, but why should I have to. To me, having to live in an area the government deems deserves transportation is another form of segregation. It is the government saying you may live here and have transportation or you may live there and be homebound, your choice.
Except its not a choice. By the government restricting the disabled to living in areas where they deem should have transportation, they are not only robbing the disabled person from their choices but are robbing these smaller communities of desperately needed citizens who could benefit their communities as well.
It is time. The ADA needs wheels NOW! It needs to guarantee transportation to the disabled no matter where we live. It is the only way to drive us all in a society with full equality.