Written by Lucinda Rowe July 26, 2018
ADA Day is significant to my family but most of all to my daughter. Estrella was born prematurely weighing one pound. She was diagnosed with severe Cerebral Palsy at a month old.
The ADA came into effect seven years before Estrella was born, making 1990 an excellent year for all individuals that are touched by a disability. It is what allows people like my daughter to thrive and live within their communities. While public education is not directly covered by the ADA (other laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act do), the ADA has spurred changes in societal expectations – spreading and permeating farther than ever, resulting in stronger inclusion in public schools. Estrella received a Free Public Education and graduated from Prairie View High school in Brighton 27J school district. She now is eligible for job training at the local transition program that contracts with Domino’s Pizza where she can glue on the coupons for the delivery boxes with a specialized tool for her to hold. All of this is possible because of the ADA.
I know we have such a long way to go with the disability civil rights movement. It needs to be honored and enforced every day, and everywhere we go. Our progress includes the ADA but goes far beyond the rules and regulations written there. Healthcare for individuals with disabilities is under constant attack. We need to secure high quality medical and non-medical (supportive) care that is controlled by individuals or their families. Support workers must be paid professional wages with benefits. Housing must be made affordable, habitable and universally designed for our community. Community services and supports need to be available anywhere you live, and people with disabilities live everywhere—urban, rural, and in between.
Estrella will soon be transitioning into the adult setting of her life. It is a terrifying time because so many things will not be available to her any longer. For instance, her therapies will be stopped, she will not be allowed to go the transition program funded by the school district, and day programs are very scarce in our community.
Our hope for the future, as we look ahead, is to work hard to educate the world that people like my daughter matter. We must fight for fairness. There are 56.7 million Americans living with disabilities right now. That number will only grow with ongoing medical advancement and an increasing senior population. I see future communities thriving with people of all abilities living in harmony. In the future we want accessible public buildings, sidewalks wider and paved for wheelchairs, bathrooms in public buildings and airplanes include a place for personal care. Already, we are seeing change now, and people are increasingly coming together to make this happen.
I work with CCDC to help make a difference not only in my daughter’s life but to be a voice for the voiceless. I go in with all my heart to make a difference. So many children and adults don’t have someone like me as Estrella does. I want to be that person for them. Organizations like CCDC have the best interest at hand in tackling all these issues we face today. It’s the old saying, “you can’t make a difference on your own.” It takes all!!