The disability community is celebrating a big milestone this summer: the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), truly landmark legislation. In fact, you could say that the date, July 26, is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a time to recognize not only how far we’ve come as a community and how far society has come as a whole, but also to look ahead to how far we can go. I celebrate and honor the activists who fought to make the ADA a reality and I know that it is up to all of us to continue their legacy by continuing the work.
With the ongoing pandemic, it may seem challenging or daunting to keep advocacy going. But there are lots of ways to be a part of fighting the good fight and pushing for access, inclusion, and meaningful change from wherever you are. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Connect with a business in your town that isn’t accessible. I understand that local businesses are being hit hard by the pandemic, but you can still work with them to improve accessibility. Perhaps you can lead a fundraiser to help them purchase a ramp for their front entrance or grab rail for their restroom. While accessibility is the law and businesses should already be accessible, look at the convergence of the pandemic and ADA30 as an opportunity to connect with and support community businesses. Remember, accessibility is an investment in the future of a business and opens it up to more customers.
Post on social media about the ADA. What has it meant to you? How has the law affected your life? In what ways would you like to see things improve? It’s so important to educate people about the ADA and its impact on the disability community. By sharing your thoughts and experiences with the people in your online networks, you can help ensure that the world becomes more accessible and accepting moving forward.
Reach out to your elected officials to advocate for disability issues you’re passionate about. While the ADA certainly doesn’t cover every single disability rights issue, the spirit of the law—equal opportunity—is something that you can use as advocacy inspiration. And remember, you have lots of elected officials you can connect with, not just at the federal level, but also at the local level. Write letters, make phone calls, send emails, tag them on social media. Make your voice heard.
These are just a few of many ways to celebrate and honor the ADA. Advocacy can take on many different forms, so choose the right fit for you. Know that however you advocate, your perspectives can make a difference. So, as we look ahead to the next 30 years, don’t be afraid to keep speaking up. Find the power within you. Who knows how we can change the world together by the time the ADA turns 60?
About Emily Ladau: Emily is a blogger and serves as the editor in chief of Rooted in Rights. She co-hosts a podcast and has been recognized as an emerging leader in the disability community. Emily lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling and trying new restaurants. Click here to learn more about Emily.