Today’s blog is in honor of Alexandra Nicklas’s website, Different and Able, and the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Different and Able was published with the purpose of providing “resources, support and possible role models.” Different and Able advocates for a more “inclusive world with bridges of access and full participation for all people.” Different and Able does so by sharing stories of experience, providing helpful resources, and creating a safe, connected space to foster an environment of empowerment. In short, their goal is to help you reach yours. Below, we have chosen to share two of our favorite stories from the Different and Able site, as well as some of their resources on how to "Get What You Need Out of the ADA." Please be sure to visit their site for some wonderful stories and resources, as well to participate in the amazing space they have created!
Different is Awesome
Different is Awesome by Ryan Haack is an illustrated children's book about a little boy who brings a surprise to school for show and tell...his older brother, Ryan. It is based on the true story of the author, whose little brother brought him to school for show and tell to show off that Ryan was born a little different than many others, because Ryan was born with only one hand.
Not only does Ryan show the kids in his brother's class that his difference doesn't hold him back, but he also helps them discover a more profound truth: that everyone is a little, well, different! What's more, differences are what make us who we are. They make our community vibrant.
The author subtly makes this point by introducing each curious kid by describing an attribute that might be called a difference. For instance, in one scene, a little boy with red hair asks Ryan if he can play baseball despite his disability. In another, a little girl with a birthmark on her face asks if he can play basketball. As the children come forward one by one to ask Ryan questions, we realize that--in having a difference--Ryan is just like everyone else.
It wasn’t until the Summer of 2015, when my mom was online looking reading about the Women’s World Cup, when she noticed a link to the Paralympic Cerebral Palsy World Championships. It was then that she and my dad looked into the team and sure enough, I qualified for it because of my stroke and CP. My dad reached out to Stuart Sharp, Head Coach of the United States Men’s Paralympic National Team, and eventually I was invited to my first National team camp out in Carson, California at the age of 13. It was there I met the most incredible people and heard more incredible stories. It was there I experienced the National team, but more importantly for me, I experienced fitting in and being "normal" for the first time. I was just like everyone else there and that was the most special thing for me, learning to not just accept who I am but, to embrace where I come from and what I go through every day. Once I arrived home, my new goal in life was clear: I was going to play soccer for the USA and I wasn’t going to let anything stop that. I suffered multiple injuries through my training and playing over the course of the next year and a half, including stress fractures in my back and foot. The worst injury came in 9th grade, when I was ten days away from my next National team camp and severely hyperextended my knee during a high school game. I tore everything in my knee except my ACL (luckily). I was out of action for 6 months. 3 days after the 6-month mark of my injury, I flew out for my second National team camp in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. I was beyond excited. After that camp, I was called into another camp two months later in Chicago IL. There I proved my passion for making the team and proved that I should be brought in for an International Camp in Santiago, Chile.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to get the call for that trip to Chile. Yet, two weeks later, there I was meeting up with the team getting ready to fly out to Chile. During this ten-day camp we played in two international friendlies, and on the last night of camp, in the last minutes of the second game, I was subbed in and made my international Debut for the United States. This moment is incomparable to anything I have ever experienced and is easily the greatest moment of my life!
Being one of the youngest to ever debut for the team at 15 years and 3 months was surreal. It made my year and gave me the drive to always strive to be the best I can be. Upon returning home, I continued to give everything to the game I love more than anything. Working hard at home finally led to another camp invite, upcoming in December. Upon coming home from this camp, I plan on fighting through my disability every day and working hard on joining the team again as my goal is to continue my National team journey for as long as possible. I also want to inspire others and prove to kids (and anyone for that matter), that anything is possible with the right mindset and work ethic. I aim to be living proof.
Getting What You Need out of the Americans With Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an important piece of legislation for those with disabilities. Here are the basics. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life: to enjoy employment opportunities, to have access to public accommodations and public transportation, to be given physical and academic accommodations to pursue educational goals, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- the ADA is an "equal opportunity" law for people with disabilities.
The ADA is divided into four titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.
Title I - Employment
- Helps people with disabilities access the same employment opportunities and benefits available to people without disabilities. Title I requires employers who have 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified job applicants and employees. This section of the ADA also defines what constitutes a disability, what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, and provides guidelines for the provision of reasonable accommodations.
- The US. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulates the Title I provisions and makes sure that they are followed.
Title II - Public Services: State and Local Government
- Protects those with disabilities from discrimination by state and local government agencies and requires all public services, programs and activities to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- Provides guidelines for agencies to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination, to minimize architectural barriers and to communicate effectively with people with hearing, vision and speech disabilities.
- Public Transportation provided by state or local government transportation includes, but is not limited to, bus and passenger rail service. Rail service includes subways (rapid rail), light rail, commuter rail, and Amtrak.
- The US Department of Justice regulates Title II provisions and makes sure that they are followed. The transportation issues are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration.
Title III - Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities
- Prohibits places open to the general public from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. This includes privately owned, leased or operated facilities such as hotels, restaurants, shops, doctor’s offices, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, sports arenas and movie theaters.
- Stipulates the minimum standards for accessibility, for alterations and for new construction of commercial facilities and privately owned public accommodations. It also requires public accommodations to remove barriers in existing buildings if it is easy to do without much difficulty or expense.
- If transportation is offered by a private company, it is covered by Title III. Privately funded transportation includes, but is not limited to, taxi cabs, airport shuttles, intercity bus companies, such as Greyhound, and hotel-provided transportation.
- Businesses are to make "reasonable modifications" to their usual procedures when serving people with disabilities and businesses must take steps necessary to communicate effectively with customers with vision, hearing, and speech disabilities.
- The US. Department of Justice regulates the Title III provisions and makes sure that they are followed. The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration releases information, guidance and regulations on transportation and the ADA.
Title IV - Telecommunications
- Requires telephone and internet companies to provide a nationwide system of interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services that allows individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the telephone. Also requires closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements.
- The Federal Communication Commission regulates the Title IV provisions and makes sure that they are followed.
To find out more, visit: The Americans With Disabilities Act
For more amazing stories like these, please visit the Different and Able website and show Alexandra some love!