My ADA Reflection: Gen-Xer College Days

Hey there, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve posted. I’ve been tending to responsibilities that have ramped up in recent months and it’s taken fair bit of attention and time away from updating my beloved blog but wanted to pop back in for a hot sec to share.

Today is the 29th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a key piece of legislation that ensures the civil rights for disabled persons. Grateful for all the tireless staunch advocacy of so many forebears especially BIPOC (Black, indigenous, persons of color) folx hailing from multiple marginalized identities whose labor is often thankless and far less spotlighted in media and annals of history.

I was 17 years old and a rising high school senior when it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. Not implemented by the time I started college in the fall of ’91. I struggled some getting around on campus, navigating my day in and around buildings that had some combination of having no railings, inaccessible restrooms, no elevators, classes on higher floors, shuttle buses with high steps and heavy bag, etc. Quite the frustrating adventure to say the least.

By the time I finished college in ’97 I’d seen more changes to provide better access and peace of mind take place. My schedule was considered with conservation of energy and ease of mobility; all my classes were in accessible buildings with no-step(s) entry, accessible restrooms, and working elevator. Although since my congenital neuromuscular disability was mostly non-apparent or “hidden” and didn’t require the use of mobility aids then, I’d sometimes get a low snide remark, smirk, eye-rolls when I rode the elevator and exited on 2nd/3rd floor. Fellow riders apparently concluded laziness and/or entitlement must be a play rather than disability that compromised my mobility. And I didn’t always have the time or energy to address it in the moment before darting off to next class.

Oh the assumptions many make, and even though lots of changes were taking place to facilitate access, it takes far longer to permeate the ignorance that adds to unwelcoming atmospheres and backward attitudes/beliefs. We still haven’t arrived but someday soon, some day soon and maybe it won’t take another 29 years…let’s hope.

4 thoughts on “My ADA Reflection: Gen-Xer College Days

  1. Hi Heather. Good to hear from you. Yes, I remember Emerson’s city campus. No way would it be allowed now!
    Hope you are well . Thank you for all the time, effort, and hard work you have done to help us get to
    Where we are today.
    I think of you often.
    Karen Kinnealey

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Karen! So good to hear from you, thanks for reading and all your kind words and mentorship so many moons ago. Yes, that campus was so not a smooth ride, thank goodness for mandates and progress. We definitely need to catch up soon!

      Like

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