Sunday, July 25, 2010

fall of the wall of exclusion

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

Monday, July 26th will mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Pictured surrounding President Bush are the mother of a disabled child, a man who lived professional discrimination, an activist heir, and a religious leader who would accept the pen from President Bush with his foot because he was born with no arms.

Seated (l-r) Evan Kemp (1937-1997) Justin Dart, Jr (1930-2002). Standing (l-r) Rev. Harold Wilke (1914-2003) Sandra Swift Parrino (1934-).

Their lives of passion and commitment for the rights of others brought us all to the beginning.

No, that 1990 legislation was not perfect. Nor, today, is society barrier free, but it is unquestionably better.

Barriers can be problematic to recognize unless you are affected by them. Just because you do not see them does not mean they are not there. It really is a simple truth.

While this personal anecdote below is only social it does capture the difference in 20 years of ADA as told as a tale of two restaurants …

In our earliest years of living with Multiple Sclerosis as a family, a restaurant owner actually told me he did not need the business of people in wheelchairs. Modifications would cost him money. Were crippled people going to pay for his costs? Come back when my wife could walk.

Last week going out for dinner for our wedding anniversary with the push of a button accessible doors swung open to welcome us. Several tables in the dinning room were designed a few inches higher so wheelchair patrons could effortlessly slide under. No fuss over accessibility just good old fashioned hospitality for ‘all’.

On the part of one family, gazing back through a photo of a moment frozen in time -  thank you!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 
musings: patrick ponder


  1. Let's not forget the Movie theaters that are also now designed with rows specifically designed for wheelchairs and their companions. Pleasure to go to the movies and not be relegated to the back and not being able to sit with the person in the wheelchair! Taking Sharon to the movies with her kids became a reality for us when our AMC Theatre was built in the late 1990's and had this feature!!

    Yes, we have come a long way, but still have a long way to go. I hated when we would go out and stupid people would park in the lines along side the wheelchair accessible parking spots. The police told me that they could ticket those vehicles because everyone did it!!

    I am glad for you and Patty that you can still get out. Sharon is mostly confined to the Nursing Home because her husband sold the van. We rely on NJ Transit Access Link or the generosity of the MS Society to get her out.

  2. what a sad pathetic man that first restaurant owner was to look only for himself and not helping others to enjoy an evening out with their family/friends. (Is he still in business?) so glad you and Patti were able to enjoy an anniversary dinner in a fine restaurant graciously making sure you both had a nice time


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