I Live in a Post-ADA Society and it Doesn’t Work

As we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there’s much to be thankful for, yet we still have work to do.

What I Like About the ADA

I like the public infrastructure and building safety aspects. Having the freedom to go anywhere and access any building is essential to me. Regulations ensure that wheelchair users and people with limited mobility can access buildings, ATMs, public transportation and a variety of other public spaces. With these regulations, I do not have to plan my path in advance or feel discouraged from leaving my home. I feel confident knowing the ADA includes specific building codes and construction regulations. This safety is not common in other countries. My hope is that citizens of other countries will advocate for laws similar to the ADA.

What I Use in My Life

While I am protected by every aspect of the ADA, there are a few recent moments in my life that have made me thankful for specific parts. The right to equal hiring and reasonable accommodation is a very important one to me. As a teenager entering the workforce, I do not have any specialties or a degree yet. As a result, most managers consider teenagers to be cheap and available labor. Most of the jobs, however, are fast food or retail and require the employee to lift 15 pounds or climb a ladder. After noticing this, I educated a potential employer about my rights to equal access and was offered a job.

What Needs to Change

Building safety and equal employment access are not guaranteed, much like any other area of the ADA. Lawmakers tend to stay quiet about disability rights, which harms the disability community. There is still work to be done, and currently, equal access rights and the right to privacy is threatened by the overturning of Roe v Wade. Here are some areas I think could be improved or implemented.

Most Americans do not have much education about disability history or equal access laws like the ADA. Disability is left out of many history curriculums in schools. These topics include eugenics, the ugly laws, the 504 sit-ins, and more. The socioeconomic status of disabled American citizens remains low, which prevents many from pursuing legal action if they are discriminated against. Infrastructure and building regulations within the ADA should be updated to include new solutions to modern problems.

About Riley Hurt: Riley lives in Salem, Oregon, and uses a Stretto Power Wheelchair for mobility. Riley is enrolled in college, pursuing electrical and computer engineering. She hopes to make her future field more inclusive for people with disabilities. Click here to learn more about Riley.

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