After the Parkland tragedy, I have been listening closely to what these amazing students are doing. Children not yet 21 years old, have taken a stand for their rights, for their SAFETY.
Being part of the disabled community, we are also in danger of having our civil rights taken away from us. Speaking for myself, it took three years after my diagnosis to not be a hermit and walk proudly and confidently outside among everyone else. I fought hard to stay employed and still fighting even harder for my community to be accepted as an untapped source for companies to access for hire.
Since late 2017, the current administration has been looking to change the ADA Act. ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities Act. It " is the nation's first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications." (https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/1990s/ada.html).
The ADA passed Congress in July 26, 1990(https://dredf.org/about-us/publications/the-history-of-the-ada/
). That is not a long ago at all! Before the ADA Act, I have heard stories of the blind being institutionalized if they did not have any family support. Hidden away, seen as a burden and a group of people that was not capable or able to take care of themselves.
This July 26, 2018 will mark 28 years for people that are differently abled to be treated like human beings! On February 15, 2018: the House of representatives with a vote of 225 to 192, 12 Democrats and 19 Republicans passed legislation to amend the ADA. This amendment is under the ADA Education and Reform Act. This amendment is driven by fear, and implicit bias that every person with a disability has a back pocket attorney just looking for lawsuits to file. The truth of the matter is, without the ADA, when it comes to accessibility; companies and employers would not think about it (or care?). The percentage of those that are trying to abuse and submit frivolous lawsuits are small compared to the lawsuits filed with true discrimination and violation of accessible shown.
Even with the amendment started off to focus on "frivolous" lawsuits, these changes will cause a domino effect and cause many protections of accessibility to be under attack. Another fun fact; with ADA lawsuits of accessibility violations, the person that filed the suit does not get any monetary award. The lawsuit results in the inaccessible violation becoming accessible. Passing legislation to benefit companies and not the people will create a culture of un empathetic jerks, make the unemployment rate of 70-75 percent much higher and "essentially gut the ADA’s provisions dealing with public accommodations by removing any incentive that businesses have to comply with the law before a complaint is filed" (https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/house-passes-changes-to-americans-with-disabilities-act-over-activists-objections/2018/02/15/c812c9ea-125b-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html?utm_term=.1020f88fc089).
I understand the harsh truth, if I did not have the ADA to protect me, I am sure employers would of let me go a long time ago and I would not have been seen as a value. Why pay for assistive technology? Human resources departments within companies are no longer looking at their biggest asset of a company; the people, the workers, the employees. Instead it has shifted to protecting the company from those that are the foundation of their success.
So, the disabled community, we have to come out of hiding and learn something for the young people in Parkland, FL. Let us fight for our rights by going out to vote, protesting and talking out loud. We need to be heard but most importantly, WE NEED TO BE SEEN!