Big Ideas in Building Community

By Judy Heumann: For More Info, Go Here…

Expand the Movement, Fight For Everyone’s Equality

Judith HeumannNM: The ADA turns 30 this year. Did you think we’d be further along by now, and where do you think we’ll be when the ADA turns, say, 50?

JH: Quite frankly in the beginning I wasn’t thinking that far into the future. I didn’t think there would be this much advancement in this period of time because it felt like we were so far behind other movements in so many different ways. We were looking at the need to create organizations and develop principles like cross-disability, intergenerational, independent living, community integration … those were issues I thought about most prominently, not where we would be in 10, 20, 30 years.

Looking at that question today, I have a number of thoughts.

First, change takes a long time. On some level that’s kind of a trite thought, but when I think about the amount of work that has been done in my lifetime to advance the movement, we’ve made important progress but are still very far behind other movements. In part this is because other movements by and large don’t see us as a part of their movements.

We’ve seen progress, not excellent, but good to very good, in physical access. But then you see New York City building subway stations that are not accessible and airline travel becoming more difficult, not less difficult.

Disabled students receiving quality education in integrated settings so they can participate in their community and not be marginalized is, in my view, pivotal. And employment is another critical issue. We need to ensure that people get the education they need to work in the work force of today and tomorrow.

It’s not just about today. If we’re not part of discussions about the future, we will lag behind. When you think of autonomous vehicles, if not for the fact we started getting involved early, I doubt there would even be a discussion about our issues, and we’re still not where we need to be.

We must be part of discussions about global warming so we can play a more meaningful role in the policies and practices that are being developed. It’s also important that disabled people be running for office in greater numbers.

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