Tagged with: accessibility ADA advocate awareness disability education employment exercise health inclusion life Physical Activity recreation sport wheelchair
I lost my limbs in 1979 due to rare blood disease, what that moment has done is made me a member of a very prestigious club. No, it’s not the 50/50 club in baseball or the AARP club, at least not yet. What it has done is made me a lifetime member of the ADA club. What does that mean?
To have a physical disability has brought me into an exclusive membership that doesn’t require any membership fees or pledging. It is simply having a physical disability that has allowed me to be part of the most underserved population, if not in the US, then maybe the whole world.
Like many others, I didn’t choose to have a disability but I did choose to realize that having a disability has been one of the best things that ever happened to me. I choose to be as positive as I can with my approach to having a disability. I also try to be very approachable despite having no arms or legs. I know that this is something that every person with a disability decides at some point. I know not everyone with a disability feels the same way. This is Ok. Choosing to be positive and approachable does not make me a perfect person. It does not make me better than any other man. It just says the type of person I try to be.
What has this done for me? Like the ADA, I too have grown over the past 25 years. I am also in a position to recognize and address issues that pertain to people with disabilities. It has made me realize that there are many people who are looking for advocacy and direction. It has made me realize that through inclusion, person first language, universal design and healthy communities we can make a change. I realize that being a person with a disability and recognizing the importance of ADA is an outright honor and a privilege. I am so thankful to be part of the 53 million in the US and the approximately 1 billion in the world. I am one person that stands along with millions of others. I look forward to voicing and serving people who have concerns. It is a delight to know that disability culture is front and center for this week, month, and year.
Deciding to support ADA, does not mean that I may always have all the right answers but I am always up for a discussion on issues that affect disability culture. For the 53 million, please look to get involved in this unique opportunity. To be an active participant with the ADA law and it’s surrounding outcomes such as the Dear Colleague letter that is there to benefit you, millions of others and even future people with disabilities. Not everyone has to be at every protest, but it would be nice. Not everyone has to write to every Senator and Congress representative, but it would be a sign of great unity and strength.
At the end of the day, not doing anything is the wrong play. Is it possible we can have all 50 plus million being one loud voice seeking opportunities in education, employment, transportation and recreation? Look how far we have come. Imagine where we can be in another 25 years? Now, this is the club I want to be a part of.