Thirty Years of ADA

In the United States, the rights of people with disabilities has not been an assured discussion for a very long time. In fact, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is only thirty years old. I can frankly remember the day I saw the news on the television. While I was still just eleven years old at the time, the thought puzzled me because as a child, I thought it was to be taken for granted that all people should not be discriminated against in the United States. This is a side effect of having being raised in California where while this was a practice of generalizations.

The ADA is an environmental change for people with disabilities. It meant that buildings were to be barrier-free for people with mobility issues. It meant that schools were to be open to students with disabilities as well. The world, at least in the United States, was going to continue making progress for all members of our country especially with regards to people with disabilities.

The world, at least in the United States, was going to continue making progress for all members of our country especially with regards to people with disabilities.- Renay H. Marquez

The work is not done on ADA. There are still many more things for ADA to address. Equality is still not a truth for many people with disabilities. In an earlier draft, we started to list the inequalities we knew about that the ADA does not cover. It is a little startling to think about. They were edited out in our final draft because this article is not about the things that people with disabilities have yet to achieve. But if you ever want to do that as an exercise for yourself, it’s a little eye-opening.

What Can One Person Do?

The reminder that comes to mind most often: look across a room to see who is missing. Ask why they did not have a seat at the table. Ask loudly. Find a way to get them to the table and voice their views.

Knowing how to step aside for someone else’s truth is a difficult skill in modern-day, but it is an important skill.

If you are in education, give all students the agency to connect and have a chance to say something in class. It is probably harder with students who are introverted, but I have often found that when an introvert finds their voice, most in a class listen.

I am often told by coworkers, “I am not a leader, I am a good little worker bee.” And my argument to my coworkers is simply that they are unable to live in the modern world as a silent worker bee any longer. The world depends on everyone standing up for the things that need be said. It takes some time to be heard and it takes time to develop the tenor in one’s voice to make themselves be heard. It also takes time to develop a following and supporters. And this is where the intersection of ADA sits. Not just because it is ‘right’, but the following and supporters need to continue to be there with a tenor in their voices that means we will not give up until equality comes.

It takes some time to be heard and it takes time to develop the tenor in one’s voice to make themselves be heard. It also takes time to develop a following and supporters. And this is where the intersection of ADA sits. – Renay H. Marquez

Today, across the media platforms, #ADA30, #ThankyouADA are all being shared. Our stories bring us together. The United States still needs the ADA, we have more work to do and now people with disabilities can do it better alongside us. We encourage everyone to share their stories today. 

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