As you may have heard elsewhere, today is the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Before the ADA was passed, public facilities were only required to be accessible if they received federal funding. The ADA widened the net of protections and has been the most substantial legal step towards equality for people with disabilities of all kinds to date. But we still have a long way to go. I am very lucky that I was born about six months after the ADA was signed into law, so I never had to live life without it. But as I got older I started to learn about the many people who fought for it, so today I want to honor them.
The following is a list of people whose ideas and opinions reflect what I hope will be the future of the disability rights movement. This is far from an exhaustive list and many more people should be included. One thing I have learned about the disability rights movement is that for every one person who speaks out about an injustice imposed upon the disability community, many other people have been talking about it for years.
1. Judy Heumann (politics)
As I gained self-confidence in who I am and others gain their self-confidence as disabled people, we are reaching out to more people with disabilities to help them recognize that they are not the problem. What we are demanding are slowly producing changes here in the US and abroad. Barriers are not just physical; the biggest barriers are prejudice and fear.Judy Heumann
Read more about Judy here.
Find Judy’s book here.
2. Haben Girma (law)
Disability is part of the human experience. We all need to engage in the work to make our world accessible to everyone. Inclusion is a choice.Haben Girma
Read more about Haben here.
Find Haben’s book here.
3. Alice Wong (media production)
Storytelling can be more than a blog post, essay, or book. It can be an emoji, a meme, a selfie, or a tweet. It can become a movement for social change.Alice Wong
Read more about Alice here.
Find Alice’s books here.
4. Squirmy and Grubs (interabled relationships)
Everyone has a part of their life that truly blows. It’s how you react to it which defines your quality of life, not the circumstance.Shane Burcaw
Watch Squirmy and Grubs on Youtube here.
Find Shane’s books here.
5. Dominick Evans (marriage equality)
How do you tell a person to choose between having food to eat and getting married? How do you tell a person to choose between going to the bathroom and getting married? How do you tell a person to choose between their medication or their therapy or their wheelchair or their program that helps them to be more independent and self-sufficient and getting married? The person that makes such decisions is not being given a choice.Dominick Evans
Read Dominick’s blog here.
6. Carrie Ann Lucas (custody rights)
We should not be social-engineering families on the basis of things like poverty or disabilities.Carrie Ann Lucas
Read more about Carrie here.
7. Stacey Park Milbern (community organizing)
We live and love interdependently. We know no person is an island, we need one another to live. No one does their own dental work or cuts their own hair. We all need support. Hierarchy of what support is okay to need and what isn’t is just ableism.Stacey Park Milbern
Read more about Stacey here.
8. Imani Barbarin (blogging and social media)
Disabled people don’t overcome their disability because they’ve presented their skills in a manner that is palatable to an audience. They jump through hoops around inaccessibility, bias, and ableism that goes unchecked and unquestioned leading to many more disabled people feeling repressed and ignored.Imani Barbarin
Read Imani’s blog here.
Read more about Imani here.