I was thinking today about the time our son invited his 90 year old great-great-aunt to our home for his upcoming birthday party. He was even baking his own cake. Ange accepted the invitation, but when she arrived, she realized she couldn’t get up the dozen stairs to our home.
A proper, gracious lady, she was not one you carried, thank you very much. She was going to return home, but happily, we lived on a corner lot, and drove the car up on the lawn to the backyard picnic table and moved the party outdoors. Win win.
I recall this event because of the recent news stories on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed on July 26, 1990. At the time, it didn’t seem to have anything to do with me, since I did not know anyone who used a wheelchair. However, after realizing that our extended family couldn’t access our home, I began to realize the true importance of accessibility in everyday life.
When I opened my first studio a few years later, we were sure to put in a ramp for easy access for everyone. We had few clients in wheelchairs, but many senior citizens, parents with strollers and the occasional injured athlete on crutches and they all appreciated the beautiful ramp. (Designed by my brother-in-law Larry and built by him and my husband in a long weekend.)
So as you watch the Paralympics next month, or simply appreciate ramps built into sidewalk corners and elevators everywhere, take a moment to thank those who saw the very real need for disability rights. When congress finally passed the ADA, a law designed to help the most vulnerable among us, they wound up helping make life better for us all. Let’s all say thank you, and perhaps ask how we can help.