Archive for July, 2010

ABC 7 News Story — Marchers Mark 20 Years of Disabilities Act

ABC 7 interviewing Kimball GrayECNV staff marched to Capitol Hill with hundreds of CIL colleagues last Thursday hundreds .

Kimball Gray, ECNV Director of Community Services, was interviewed by ABC 7 News!! Leadn on Kimball! Watch the story now. (I can’t believe it’s not captioned!!! What were they thinking?)

WASHINGTON – It’s been 20 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. But supporters say their fight for inclusion is far from over.

Hundreds marched to Capitol Hill Tuesday, marking the strides that have been made in 20 years.

“Bathrooms are different, there’s curb cuts on every street, elevators in a lot of buildings that didn’t have’m before, lots of ramps,” explained Kelly Buckland from the National Council on Independent Living.

But, they say, their fight is not yet won.

“We still have a long way to go,” said DC resident Amber Keohane.

A big concern remains debt-ridden states that are cutting community services, forcing more disabled into nursing homes.

“It costs more to be in a nursing home than it is to live in your own home with assistance,” said Leigh Anne Heath, a Galax, Virginia, resident.

People with disabilities remain only half as likely to find a job as those without.

“We tend to be loyal and stay with them, in part because it is difficult to find jobs, and because we want to work,” said Kimball Gray, a Silver Spring resident.

Hanging at convention headquarters — The Grand Hyatt — a huge artistic flag, with each feather and stick holding a photo and story of a disabled American.

“It’s all about human beings connecting one on one, sharing their story, and making things better,” said Scott Cooper, a producer.

They’re message to lawmakers: we are a force to be reckoned with.

The group has a website marking the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It goes live on July 26 at 1:45, the exact time President George H. W. Bush signed the legislation: http://www.itsourstory.org.

There’s a web preview available at http://www.youtube.com/user/itsourstoryproject

Credit to the ABC 7 News

July 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm Leave a comment

ADA Quotes

Barack Obama“And as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we must renew our commitment to uphold the civil rights of those living with disabilities and to fully include all our people in the life of our nation.” – President Barack Obama

 

Bob Dole“Working together, we can ensure that every American citizen will be provided the access and opportunity to be a part of all that society offers.” – Former US Senator Bob Dole

 

 

“The ADA opened the door when businesses were looking at hiring people with disabilities as a matter of nondiscrimination and civil rights. Now we are finding that the best businesses are finding out that the large expenses they feared would be required, never came about. They are now finding what an asset to their business, employees with disabilities can be.” – Cherie

Doreen Solar“Because of the ADA, I am able to have a sign language interpreter for my efficient communication with hearing people. I also have closed captions when I watch television, DVDs, and movies so I am able to enjoy my leisure time with my deaf friends.” – Doreen

 

Ed McEntee“As a wheelchair user, ADA has opened up a whole new world to me, negotiating our local Transit system, which is now accessible.” – Ed M

 

 

Ed WeissThe ADA puts me on the same level as everyone else, even though I am sitting in a wheel chair.” – Ed W

 

 

George H.W. Bush “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” – Former President George H.W. Bus

 

 

Kimball Gray“Because of the ADA I no longer worry that I’ll be kicked out of a movie theater because I can’t get out of my wheelchair and into a theater seat.” – Kimball

 

 

“Thanks to the ADA, I can get to and from work sooner.” – Jennifer

Justin Dart, Jr. “Most importantly, ADA is a landmark commandment of fundamental human morality. It is the world’s first declaration of equality for people with disabilities by any nation. It will proclaim to America and to the world that people with disabilities are fully human; that paternalistic, discriminatory, segregationist attitudes are no longer acceptable; and that henceforth people with disabilities must be accorded the same personal respect and the same social and economic opportunities as other people.” – Justin Dart, Jr.

Bob Kafka“If we believed that ADA is the power and we are the recipients of its strength, rather than we are the power and ADA is a tool for us to use, I fear we may still have a long way to go.” – Bob Kafka

 

“As a result of the law, I have been successful in getting curb cuts installed in two places important to my safety.” – Matt B

“Thanks to the ADA, I know that my accessibility is not something only I worry about … It is the law.” – Matt T

Ruchika Lalwani“Thanks to the ADA I can go out and dine at my favorite restaurants with my family and friends.” – Ruchika

 

 

“Thanks to this important law, living as a quadriplegic has become much easier. The ability to have accessible seating at movies and stadiums, accessible transportation, wide sidewalks and curb cuts and accessible dining opportunities has made my life better by leaps and bounds. However, there are still instances where accessibility is a barrier to full enjoyment of services in the community, so we cannot become complacent otherwise we will be left behind again.”- Sheri

Steny HoyerPassing ADA was incredibly historic. Now every day we must fight to make sure that the words in the law, the words on the White House lawn, the words in the House, and the words in the Senate become reality…” – US Congressman Steny Hoyer

 

 

Ted Kennedy “…equal justice under the law is not a privilege — but a fundamental birthright in America.” – US Senator Ted Kennedy

  

 

Tom Harkin “I strongly believe that it is important to level the playing field and give eligible individuals equal access to community-based services and supports. This vital legislation will open the door to full participation by people with disabilities in our neighborhoods, workplaces, our economy, and our American Dream.” – US Senator Tom Harkin  

 

Valerie Jarrett“The ADA was a landmark civil rights legislation. It was a bill of rights for persons with disabilities, a formal acknowledgement that Americans with disabilities are Americans first and that they’re entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everybody else.” – Valerie Jarrett

Article from the ECNV Declaration (Summer 2010 Edition)

July 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm 3 comments

A New Dawn!

ADA Signing CeremonyIt dawned like no other day – Wednesday, July 26, 1990! Filled with joyful anticipation, I stood on the South Lawn of the White House, along with 2,000 others from all over the United States, waiting to witness President George H.W. Bush sign the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.

Flooded with a myriad of thoughts and emotions, I was overcome with the sense I hadn’t come alone to this moment. My mother, my uncle, and my grandmother, all of whom were born blind, like me, were here with me in spirit! From an early age, the stories of the prejudice and discrimination they faced awakened my outrage and anger about the way society treated people with disabilities.

My own experience included exclusion from my neighborhood school and busing across town to segregated classes with other students with disabilities. At college after high school, I was given an isolated, segregated dorm room reportedly because I’d be using readers and want to be alone.

Upon graduation from university, I sought my first job but encountered a gauntlet of barriers. Back then there was no recourse under the law.

I recalled my friends and colleagues unable to enter government buildings, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, movie theaters, and other places because they weren’t accessible. I bristled thinking of the eatery that turned away one of my friends, saying that his cerebral palsy would offend other customers.

I reflected on how we finally decided we’d had enough and organized as a cross-disability rights movement to advocate for our rights. It started in 1968 with returning Vietnam veterans and civilians with disabilities working to get a law requiring that all newly built or leased federal buildings and facilities be accessible.

More advocacy by people with disabilities resulted in the Rehabilitation Act passing Congress in 1972, but President Nixon vetoed it and in response, Judy Heumann led disability rights activists in a blockade of Times Square, gaining national attention. Congress overrode Nixon’s veto.

Momentum built with more marches, rallies and protests from 1985-89. Centers for Independent Living, like ECNV, organized people with disabilities in communities throughout the country to advocate for disability rights. In Virginia this resulted in enactment of the Virginians with Disabilities Act.

A final push to get the ADA bill through Congress culminated in a massive disability rights march and crawl up the Capitol steps in 1990.

Finally, after a historic public debate, both Houses of Congress passed the bill and sent it to President Bush for signature. And, so here we were at the White House.

Suddenly, President Bush mounted the stage. He spoke those beautiful words, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down!” And, with the flick of his pen, it was done, and everything had changed!

Changed – did I really think that all of the physical and attitudinal barriers had disappeared with the signing of the ADA? No, of course not. We all knew there would be years of struggle and advocacy ahead. But, in that wonderful, jubilant moment, we could revel in what we had achieved.

Americans with disabilities were now first class citizens! For the first time, we had rights under the law, and we had recourse against the injustice of discrimination.

It was a new dawn, like no other – and we weren’t going back!

By Doris Ray, Director of Advocacy and Outreach
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Summer 2010 Edition)

July 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

Parking Study – Issues for Disabled Drivers

Issues:

  1. The current number of dedicated spaces for handicapped drivers is woefully inadequate. Currently there are 55 designated handicapped spaces in the Old Town area vs. 8,000 total spaces. Only 18 designated spaces are in the metered area out of 4,000 spaces. Using the rule of thumb of 2% handicapped for each regular space, the City should provide 80 metered spaces for the disabled and a total of 160 total designated spaces in the study area. Handicapped parking should have the same proportion of metered parking, garage parking and residential parking as exist in the total pool of parking spaces. Since we are following Arlington down the “All May Park, All Must Pay” path, it should be noted that in Arlington, 4% of metered spaces were designated handicapped.
  2. Designated spaces are not currently located conveniently to high volume commercial areas. Dedicated spaces should be fairly dispersed throughout the Old Town district.
  3. Many of the current spaces are not fully accessible for wheelchair users and others requiring a ramp to the sidewalk. Improving the complete accessibility of spaces should be a goal of this new parking management plan.
  4. A disabled driver/rider needs more time to park, get to their destination, and complete their business than a typical driver. Loss of the ability to park for a longer period of time and close to one’s destination is a serious impediment to the disabled to doing business in Old Town. Conveniently located spaces will reduce the time needed.
  5. “All may park, all must pay” appears fair on its face, but it is not. The disabled, as a group, have a low median income, so the levy of parking fees has a disproportionately heavy burden on them. Some disabled people have physical difficulties that prevent handling coins with ease. The coupling of “All may park, all must pay” with the increase in METRO Access and DOT fees feels like a de facto “disability transportation tax.” Taking away one of the few benefits of being disabled appears mean-spirited to those who suffer from serious problems that impede normal life.
  6. Kiosk meters create substantial issues for the disabled. Walking back and forth between the car and the kiosk is especially physically burdensome for an individual with difficulty walking.
  7. Alternative types of transportation may not be an option for disabled drivers.
  8. If the handicapped placards are being abused (an assumption made with no evidence – see Budget Memo # 87, April 8, 2009) perhaps the issue is better enforcement rather than placing a burden on legitimate users.
  9. The costs to fairly implement “All may park, all must pay” – new handicapped spaces and meters – may offset any additional revenue.

Statement: The parking study focuses on the best ways, given current resources, to manage parking in the Old Town area. Parking spaces set aside for disabled drivers/riders are not the most efficient way to manage parking in the Old Town area, but providing sufficient spaces for the disabled is required by law and is a just use of resources. To some extent providing a sufficient number of designated handicapped spaces may address the second stated goal of reducing auto use in Old Town.

July 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

Virginia State Senator Mark Herring signs a “Proclamation of Recommitment to the Mission of the ADA”

LEND staff and Virginia State Senator Mark Herring

LEND staff, Bill Ward, Elise Graves, Tracee Garner, are proud that Virginia State Senator Mark Herring Joined the 2010 by 2010 Campaign by signing a “Proclamation of Recommitment to the Mission of the ADA.”

This campaign, sponsored by the National ADA Symposium, recognizes the progress made toward the mission of the ADA. Their goal is to have 2,010 public entities submit a “Proclamation of Recommitment to the Mission of the ADA” by the 20th anniversary of the ADA.

Please join in making the 2010 by 2010 Campaign a reality! People with disabilities, family members, and disability advocates; are ask to approach your community leaders and encourage them to participate in this historic, national event — the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act — by reaffirming their commitment to accessibility and inclusion.

Along with this proclamation, The National ADA Symposium asks that participating public entities commit to activities that increase disability awareness and/or accessibility.

July 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment

ECNV Travel Trainer is featured by Greater Greater Washington

ECNV Travel TrainersECNV Travel Trainer is featured in Greater Greater Washington. Great article!

Travel training promotes independence and saves costs

If you’re interested in learning how to get around on your own by public transportation in the Washington Metropolitan Area through our FREE travel training program, contact ECNV Travel Trainers at 703-525-3268 (Voice), 703-525-3553 (TTY), robynb@ecnv.org, or rickl@ecnv.org.

July 13, 2010 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

The ADA: 20 Years Old or 20 Years New?

Kimball Gray at an accessible movie theaterNot the typical title of an article about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), especially on its 20th birthday. This title comes from my observation of humans, some call them people, and how they can view the same thing and yet see entirely different things, aren’t we humans…. so human! So what do you think, is the ADA 20 years old or new?

I find myself moving back and forth on this question of old or new. Many of my friends and colleagues were engaged in the effort to bring the ADA to passage. However, nearly all of the guys I play quad rugby with know nothing of the history that brought us curb cuts on every corner or the blue line parking places that they use daily. While at work or around colleagues, I can speak the language that only those that have lived in a world without civil rights can use, to communicate volumes with one or two words. Using those same words among my younger friends carries no meaning and gets me nothing but, “the old guys mumbling again” look from each of them. I tried to tell them that it was not always this easy, then I realized I sounded like my grandfather and abruptly ceased!

So back to my question regarding the ADA and the different views held or should I say different perspectives on these past 20 years? In which camp are you? Do you see the ADA as being 20 years old? Have you experienced great change in your life as a person with a disability?

Earlier I mentioned a few changes I’ve experienced as a wheelchair user that many like me can readily understand and appreciate, such as the curb cut and accessible parking. These are two that I typically use when describing the pre-ADA period because these are very visible accessibility features. A few others that may not be understood as well are wider doors and my best friend, the door handle. I am one of those that does not miss the doorknob whatsoever. It looks like I may be a card carrying member of the 20 year old camp.

Now for the “glass is half empty” also known as the ADA 20 years new camp. These individuals have a look at the ADA over its first 20 years and see most Americans with disabilities unemployed or underemployed.

They see that we have to continue to explain why it is important that we be able to get into a store by ourselves or defend the right to even be in a store. This camp believes that the law is a mere 20 years new and needs to do a great deal of growing. Now I’m confused, I see and even experience this on at least a weekly basis. So does that make me a member of the 20 years new camp?

I believe I will take the human way out and say both camps are right and I am a member of both. I rarely think if there will be a curb cut at the corner but am more worried about it being blocked or built too steep. I also see businesses that bar me from entering because they were built as a walk down under a building before the ADA.

We have come a long way in these past 20 years and the ADA is still the path to the dream we seek. It has accomplished much in its first 20 years but it has its work cut out for it to turn the dreams of today into tomorrow’s reality. Have a happy 20th birthday ADA!

By Kimball Gray, Director of Community Services
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Summer 2010 Edition)

July 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm 2 comments

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