This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the last 30 years, we have come a long way. There is still a lot to do.
Many cities have done what they can to try to provide accessibility to the disability community, including Chicago. In one of my previous blogs about Chicago and accessibility, I talk about some of the more accessible places in the city, such as Millennium Park on the east side. The Crown Fountain is a totally inclusive reflecting pool that is designed without edges or deep-water areas, so anyone with a wheelchair can enter the foundation.
Still, there are other areas of Chicago that are protected because they are historical landmarks. These areas don’t need to modify the buildings for accessibility. Still, there are plenty of other areas that have retrofitted ramps and accessible doors to provide inclusivity for everyone. It’s clear that businesses are trying to make an effort while still preserving Chicago’s rich history. I understand where city leaders and business owners are coming from, so I’m not mad about areas that are inaccessible. We’ll get there, one way or another.
The 30th anniversary of the ADA also brings up the idea of disability pride, something that is extremely important to those of us living with disabilities. Immediately after my injury, I was concerned about how people would see me. Then, I grew comfortable with myself and I’m extremely confident in myself now than I ever was before. Being proud of my disability allows me to help and serve others who are struggling to find their way.
If you are newly disabled, all I can say is to reach out to others and look into all the resources that are available to you. Get a subscription to New Mobility. Visit the Abilities Expos that are held every year. See if there are disability groups in your area and get involved. Once you put yourself out there, you’ll discover that there are tons of people just like you, and all they’re doing amazing things.
About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.