I can’t believe I only have 3 weeks left here. As the ADA anniversary approaches, it’s made me think a lot about how lucky all of us are to be part of the “ADA generation.” Even though I don’t currently need to use many of the accommodations it provides, the ADA represents a major attitudinal shift that happened in 1990. The message it sends is that it is our responsibility as a society to accept people with disabilities and to break down as many barriers to independent living, employment, and inclusion as possible. These changes are definitely setting in, though slowly; for example, the CDC just appointed a Chief Officer of Disability and Health (Dr. Vince Campbell) for the first time. We are on our way to protecting the rights and safety of students with disabilities in schools, but students with disabilities still have a lower graduation rate, a higher dropout rate, and are disproportionately subjected to sometimes dangerous interventions such as seclusion and restraint. I feel lucky to have a law protecting our basic rights, but we still have a long way to go.
Speaking of the anniversary, that’s the main focus here at HQ this week. The interns here have been helping with some of the details around our events (like stuffing goody bags for Tuesday’s party), and the invitations for more celebrations just keep coming. I’m really looking forward to next week, especially to attending a NCIL rally and march on Wednesday with Ginny, who runs our Interfaith Initiative, the other HQ interns, and possibly some others. The anniversary seems to be on everyone’s mind; yesterday, I attended a Senate markup of the Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act, and several Senators mentioned that this law would help realize the goals of the ADA more fully. Anyway, I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend before next week’s tornado of events!