The Americans with Disabilities Act has its 19th anniversary this July 24th, and guess what? Access Press is 19 years old now, too. It’s always good to have this annual reminder of how the Minnesota disability movement resulted in this paper at the very same time that the ADA was born on the national front. Many of those who were the authors and advocates of the ADA legislation are gone, but they would be so happy to see the personal and social accomplishments that the ADA has resulted in. If you know someone who had a role in the movement back then, be sure to extend special thanks to them this month.
While the ADA anniversary is a time to celebrate, it’s also a time to recognize that many pieces of the original ADA have never been achieved, and that with funding cuts, some of our rights are being threatened. In all human rights movements— civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights—there have been times when it seems like things have stalled. We must work to help President Obama recognize the need to create real deadlines, and to push Congress to force the enactment of all of the provisions of the ADA. President Obama had the example of his father-in-law, Frasier Robin-son, who lived and accomplished much with MS. We need to ensure that he remembers and society recognizes the contributions that people with disabilities make in our families and our communities, when given a chance.
Right now, when funding for some of our basic needs is being taken away or decreased, we can lose excitement about our future in fear about the present. It can be hard to see how much has been accomplished by the ADA and how much our country has invested in accessibility programs for people with disabilities when they may be taking away our ability to even get out of bed. Those of us who depend on personal care assistants and other direct support professionals for assistance in daily living are worried. If PCAs cannot make a livable wage, we won’t have the ability to participate in society, and all of this hard work and investment will have been wasted.