Hi, friends!! It seems like it was just yesterday when we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), but that was FIVE whole years ago!! Back then, I did a week-long blog series on the pivotal piece of legislation and this year, I’m so excited that I got to share my story with Yahoo Life…
And guess what?? I got to do an essay AND a video!!
This was such an important piece for me to write because I don’t know who I would be without the life-changing legislation. The disability community wanting things like accessibility and inclusion should never be considered “high expectations.” Disabled people advocating for basic human rights isn’t asking too much because…
DISABLED RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS
So it’s only fitting that I shared these photos over the weekend for the ADA’s 30th anniversary. They’re from last summer and it was my very first time in an accessible taxi. I was amazed at the freedom it gave me while exploring NYC. It’s that freedom, access and opportunity that disability rights activists have been fighting for and will continue to fight for. We celebrate, but realize there’s much more work to be done because true inclusion can’t happen without disability inclusion.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I write about how my parents first taught me about advocating for yourself in elementary school…
I’ve learned the sheer power of my own voice. I’m not sure who I would be in 2020 if it weren’t for the ADA. When people ask how they can support the disability community, I always say it’s simple: Listen to us. Listen to the people who are living with the disability every day and take your cue from the disabled people in your life. We know what we need — after all, we’ve been advocating for our entire lives.
I’d love to see our society get to a place where accessibility and accommodations aren’t headlines because they’re just so commonplace. Where disabled people don’t always have to advocate for themselves.
More than anything, though, I want disabled people to be proud of who they are. I want them to know that their voice has power. And I want them to live in a world that fully includes them!
We still have a long way to go in breaking down stereotypes about disabilities and the constant ableism can be exhausting. Society sees disability as less than and makes a lot of assumptions about what it’s like to live with a disability. Let’s change this!
Also, I can’t finish this post without giving a huge, special shout-out to my fab sister for being my stylist again!! She picked out the perfect ensemble for my interview and I’m so grateful for her fashionable eye and sense of style. Isn’t she great?? Thanks for helping me celebrate the ADA, sis!!
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo