Being disabled is a waiting game.
32 years ago today, the Americans with Disabilities Act became a law.
32 years later, we are still waiting for the law to be fully realized.
3 decades (the near-entirety of my lifetime), we are told, has not been enough time to prioritize accessibility.
And so we wait.
Wait for employers to recognize that reasonable accommodations aren’t “special privileges,” but actually ways to ensure disabled people can thrive at work.
Wait for business owners to decide it’s worth their time to serve disabled customers by making (usually minor) modifications to ensure their physical locations are accessible.
Wait for public transportation systems to be upgraded so they’re safely usable for all. (If you’re in New York, you can keep waiting until at least 2055, which is when MTA has decided they’ll attempt 95% compliance with the ADA.)
Wait for rideshare companies to be held accountable for denying service to people because they use mobility equipment or have a service animal.
Wait for web developers to design websites and apps with accessibility as a core component rather than an afterthought thrown on at the end of the process.
(These are just a few examples. Believe me, I could go on.)
Wait to enter the room. Wait for a seat at the table. Wait to be handed to microphone. Wait to be truly included. Wait for our humanity to be respected. Wait to be seen as worthy and whole.
We wait and wait and wait some more.
But we also fight, even when our patience wears thin. Even when we are tired. Even when we are ignored. Even when we are silenced.
It is this fighting that made the passage of the ADA possible. And so I have hope that our continued fight will bring us to a time when the ADA is truly, finally, fully realized.
[Image description: Dark blue background. Text reads: “What do we want? Accessibility! When did we want it? 32 years ago!” Below is a logo of a wheel encircled by text that reads “Words I Wheel By” and my handle, @EmilyLadau.]