The Americans with Disabilities ACT, or ADA recently reached its 30th anniversary. How has ADA affected the accessibility of our country?
“To me it means the possibility to live a full life,” says Saffell. “I’m old enough to remember when (the ADA) passed and the transformation things have taken in accessibility since then. I was a kid, but I do remember. When I was younger it was a struggle to find access into buildings, or to find a wheelchair-accessible bathroom stall. There were a lot of challenges.”
When it comes to human connection, the concept of inclusion runs deeper than ramps and bathroom stalls. “With non-wheelchair-accessible buildings, you have a separation of people,” Saffell says. “If people with disabilities can’t get into a building, people who don’t have disabilities won’t see them as much. So, they go and make friends, or make decisions on who to hire for a job, for example.”
If you don’t have experience with people with disabilities, you’re less likely to make decisions for inclusion, Saffell says.
“I think we as a society have taken the first step to being accessible,” Solomon says. “But we need a second, third step.” She says a more inclusive building design would have one accessible entrance for everyone rather separate entrances for wheelchair users and the able-bodied.
Davis says having an inclusive mindset means thinking about things from another person’s perspective to be sure their needs are met. He says the overall view goes beyond just accommodations.
“It’s more a feeling of being a part of something,” he says. “I think that’s what drew me to Achilles. Feeling a part of something good not just for myself but for everybody that participates.”