This year I was a bit bummed that all the big, in-person celebrations for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act were canceled due to COVID-19. So, at the very last minute, my fiancé and I decided to throw a socially-distanced backyard BBQ today for the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have a spacious backyard, a rather accessible home, and New York’s COVID-19 rate is pretty low right now, so we felt like we could have a safe, fun event in our backyard with some friends who love disability rights.
With just two days notice, my fiancé and I invited our friends over, grabbed a bunch of food and a cookie cake that said “Happy Birthday ADA” and put together a really fun event! It was nice to have everyone together to celebrate the ADA because the Americans with Disabilities Act is such an important piece of legislation that solidified the rights of disabled people in the United States. It’s especially nice to spend the anniversary of the ADA with other disabled people because the Disability Community has a deeper appreciation for the ADA since we are personally impacted by the legislation.
In addition to enjoying great food and each other’s company, we also filled out two different sheets of paper. One paper said “I celebrate the ADA because…” and we filled this in to help remind us of why we celebrate and how far we have come as a nation and as individuals, because the ADA has really done so much for us. The other paper said “I’ll advocate for disability rights by…” and we filled this in with commitments to ourselves and to each other of how we will continue to work to make the world a better, more inclusive place for people with disabilities because the work is not over yet! While the ADA has helped us to accomplish so much, there is always more work to be done.
It was really wonderful to see all of the different things that people wrote in. One person celebrated the ADA because she loves having captions on Netflix (definitely a benefit of the ADA!), another person wrote that the ADA was just the beginning and not the end, and others wrote that all people deserve to have the same rights. As for the commitments that people made to continue to advocate, those were equality as wonderful. One person focused on advocating for better wages for homecare workers, another committed to helping disabled people learn about resources to live independently. Others committed to advocate for accessible spaces in our community.
For many of us, we spend 364 days advocating for disability rights, so it’s really nice to spend this one day celebrating and reflecting so that we’re recharged and ready to go back out there and advocate for the rest of the year. I’m so thankful that we were able to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA together and I am looking forward to what the next year of advocacy brings us!
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.