July 26th is the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) becoming law. I wrote a post about what it means to and for me 30 years in 2020. You can read that here: https://wordpress.com/posts/thrivingwithcerebralpalsy.com?s=What+the+A What I want to talk about, now, is the work still to be done. Yes, the ADA made the playing field more level. I am very grateful to everybody who worked to make the law a reality.
That said, the work remaining is not just legal or legislative work. It is collective work requiring lots of brave and together from all of us. I started this blog, partly, because I wanted to take some of the stigma away from my condition. I wanted to tell the world what living with CP is like from my perspective. I named the blog what I did purposefully. Everybody who loves me /knows me best knows I simply will not just live or survive with CP: I want to thrive. Going in public means strangers are going to treat me differently than I would like occasionally. People stare a lot. Questions are better than staring…mostly. Invasive, personal, questions bother me, however. Why some people believe they have the right to ask questions they would not feel comfortable answering about themselves if they were asked is a mystery to me.
I ordered business cards to carry in my wallet, so when people are invasive or rude, I can simply say go check out my blog either on my website or social media. Granted the pandemic made going out almost nonexistent for well over a year. Looking forward to seeing the reaction the first time I get the chance. In fact, I may share the details here.
I do not want or need pity. When strangers ask to pray over me for healing in public: I do not foresee me ever being comfortable with that. Thinking about how to approach these situations going forward (the pandemic gave me ample time to think) I have decided to say the following: no thank you, but you can pray for me, though. You can pray I use my condition to showcase my faith, make the world better for everybody who is different, allow all people I meet to feel loved, seen, respected, valued, and valid by me. Have a great rest of your day.
There are places I want to go but cannot be due to inaccessibility. Many times, simply explaining they are not complying is enough to make them act. It boggles my mind after decades there are businesses who do not know about ADA compliance, but is true. Writing letters to building owners is also effective. Petitions are a great way to get others involved and create a sense of community as well. Collective pressure is often more impactful than simply just telling employees or business owners myself. I like to think of it as positive peer pressure. If a business will not comply after all those remedies are exhausted: I simply chose not to spend money with that business telling others if asked why I do not patronize that business.
What can all do to help me, and others with conditions, level the playing field even more than the ADA has you may ask. I have some ideas. They are listed below in no order.
- Share my posts/follow and/or subscribe to my blog’s website/follow the blog on social media
- If you see someone who might need help that uses adaptive mobility equipment (proper term for wheelchairs/walkers/and the like): ask them if they do
- When someone is getting bullied in your presence stand up for them by calling out the behavior
- Educate the bully from 3 on this list on the existence of the ADA and what the law means for the person(s) they are bullying. I continue to come in contact with people have no idea that physically challenged people are protected under federal law. Because of this, education is vital to making the world more inclusive for myself and other physically challenged individuals.
- Treat me, and everybody else, the way you want to be treated. For the most part: I do not have issues with this on the blog, but there have been a few. Thank you all for kindness and support. It means so much more than I can express