Sunday, July 27, 2008

ADA needs to open doors wider for disability community

With the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) July 26, a number of media have done stories. The Asheville, N.C. Citizen-Times, wrote a story profiling a local disability advocate who succinctly explains how much more needs to be done to guarantee equal rights for all people with disabilities.

Bart Floyd, who now works as advocacy coordinator for the Western Alliance Center for Independent Living in Asheville, said:

Most people don’t think much about disability unless it affects them directly, he said. That’s why the ADA is so important: It makes people aware of barriers.

Exactly 18 years after it became law, on July 26, 1990, the ADA has brought about changes people don’t even notice anymore. These changes open up the world for people who have disabilities, and even for people who don’t, said Barbara Davis, executive director of Pathways for the Future Center for Independent Living Center in Sylva.

“You see delivery people using the curb cuts that were put there for people who use wheelchairs,” she said. “People with strollers can get into and around stores more easily because the aisles and doors are wider.”

The ADA has brought people with disabilities out of institutions and out of their homes and into the community, Davis said, and today’s children see people with disabilities as people, not as curiosities.

Floyd says the ADA mirrors any other civil rights law in that it opens up opportunities: "(It) opens the doors to restaurants and stores to people who have disabilities. Whenever I talk to a business owner who tells me people with disabilities don’t patronize the business, I explain that they might if he removed those two steps at the front door.”