Today is the 30th anniversary of the passing of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). I was 15 years old when it was passed. I have to say that it has had an enormous impact on my life. I was born with spina bifida and have always used a wheelchair. When I was growing up in the 80's I remember times when I was either unable to go places due to inaccessibility or had to rely on family or friends to carry me up steps to access things everyone else could. Even sidewalks were not accessible due to the lack of curb cuts. One of the reasons I learned how to do wheelies in my chair was so I could go up and down curbs due to the lack of curb cuts or businesses with a step at the entrance. When I graduated from high school in 1993 and went to college the ADA was still relatively new. Many businesses, schools, curb cuts and other services were not accessible yet. Since I didn't always have people around to help like I did when I was a child inaccessibility and segregation more noticeable to me.
Since then I have noticed the wonderful impact that the ADA has had on my ability to access things and be a contributing member of society. I have had the opportunity to watch communities improve. Places are more accessible and attitudes toward people with disabilities have changed for the better. Of course it has also shown me how much work still needs to be done. It has shown me that some segregation against people with disabilities still exist. Not only do communities still lack physical accessibility but people with disabilities still lack access to things like adequate health care and adequate health insurance. As a social worker and a Certified ADA Coordinator I hope to continue working on the wonderful progress that our country has made toward inclusion for people with all disabilities and hope to continue to work on fixing the problems that still exist.