Disability Talks: Don't Dis My Ability

Happy Birthday, ADA! Celebrating 30 Years of Advocacy and Opportunity for People with Disabilities

February 13, 2020 Abilities in Motion Season 1 Episode 1
Disability Talks: Don't Dis My Ability
Happy Birthday, ADA! Celebrating 30 Years of Advocacy and Opportunity for People with Disabilities
Chapters
00:00:00
Intro
00:00:30
Shelly's Open
00:02:02
The ADA and what it means to you?
00:07:43
People with disabilities throughout history
00:16:59
The ADA Movement
00:23:06
Commercial: Abilities in Motion's General Information
00:23:45
Disability issues in the community.
00:33:31
How are centers for independent living connect to the ADA?
00:37:41
What services do Abilities in Motion provide?
00:40:05
How can you connect with Abilities in Motion?
Disability Talks: Don't Dis My Ability
Happy Birthday, ADA! Celebrating 30 Years of Advocacy and Opportunity for People with Disabilities
Feb 13, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
Abilities in Motion

Happy 30th birthday to the Americans with Disabilities Act! This life-changing act was borne out of the Independent Living Movement, which challenged the idea that people with disabilities should be confined to institutions. Civil rights leaders advocated for systems change that would allow people with disabilities to flourish independently in their communities. Join us for an honest and entertaining talk about the ADA with Abilities in Motion’s Board President, Mike Gerhard, and Executive Director, Stephanie Quigley.

For more information about Abilities in Motion, go to our website at: https://www.abilitiesinmotion.org/ or you can follow us on social media.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AbilitiesinMotionPA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BerksCountyCIL
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/abilitiesinmotion/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSEXzEkE_CK5WYmOhMAN4Aw

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Happy 30th birthday to the Americans with Disabilities Act! This life-changing act was borne out of the Independent Living Movement, which challenged the idea that people with disabilities should be confined to institutions. Civil rights leaders advocated for systems change that would allow people with disabilities to flourish independently in their communities. Join us for an honest and entertaining talk about the ADA with Abilities in Motion’s Board President, Mike Gerhard, and Executive Director, Stephanie Quigley.

For more information about Abilities in Motion, go to our website at: https://www.abilitiesinmotion.org/ or you can follow us on social media.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AbilitiesinMotionPA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BerksCountyCIL
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/abilitiesinmotion/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSEXzEkE_CK5WYmOhMAN4Aw

Support the show (http://www.abilitiesinmotion.org/donate)

Intro:

Welcome to Disability Talks, a podcast produced by Abilities in Motion. I'm your host Shelly Houser. Join us for real conversations and no nonsense talk from everyday people with disabilities living their most independent, everyday lives. Tune in for the latest news surrounding disability, accessibility, and independence, where conversations aren't dissed and stories that need to be told aren't missed. So let's talk!

Shelly :

Hello there, and welcome to all of our podcast listeners out there in the world. Today's episode, we'll be talking to some of our friends here at Abilities in Motion about the impact of the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act over the last 30 years. So let's get started with a little exercise for our listeners out there. Okay. So did you ever think about some of the conveniences of your everyday life, the automatic doors at the supermarket, the curb cuts on the corners, um, how about those like European door handles? And so the round knobs that are a pain, um, technology on your smartwatch and your smart phones, you know, all those conveniences that everyday people don't even bother to think about. They were originally developed for people with disabilities. But these examples show you just how accessibility features created for people with disabilities in mind actually benefit all of us by making the world more accessible.

Shelly :

It benefits everyone. Like how I'm able to roll my full shopping cart out the door at the grocery store without having to open the door or maybe when my hands are full and I need to open the door with my elbow or in these days, some minivans with a foot touch. So how is someone able to easily roll out luggage across or baby stroller across an airport or the mall even on a busy day. So with me today we're going to talk about accessibility and the American with Disabilities Act with Stephanie Quigley and Mike Gerhard. Stephanie is our new Executive Director and Mike was just elected President of our Board of Birectors. So first of all, congratulations to you both and welcome to the show.

Stephanie and Mike:

Thank you so much.

Shelly:

You're welcome. So Stephanie, can you talk a little about about what the ADA is and what it means to you?

Stephanie:

Of course, the ADA I think as it means to me and probably anybody or any person living with a disability, is that it's the fundamental rights given to people with disabilities that are effective under the law. It's basically the civil rights document for any person living with a disability. And the intent, you know, it's, it's a, it's a large act. I'm not going to sit to sit here and read it or, or, or get into the specifics about it, but it basically, you know, recognizes that a person with a disability should have the same rights under the law as any able-bodied person. And that the Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to put us in the right forward trajectory as far as allowing people with disabilities to have those same rights and recognize that it is needed.

Shelly:

So, um, what does it mean to you to have the ADA law in effect, what, almost 30, 30 going on 30 years ago now, right, Mike?

Mike:

Yeah. Um, it, well it didn't, hasn't affected me quite that long, but um, it's affected me for the past, uh, 20 years at this point. And it was something I kind of took for granted cause I said I grew up walking, running, jumping. When I actually remember in the neighborhoods, you know, around where I grew up, I remember them coming in and putting these curb cuts and actually like in the mid to late nineties and like I didn't understand what the big deal was or I wasn't affected by it at the time. So flat, fast forward five, six years later when I'm in a car accident and end up with a disability and in a wheelchair and it's the ADA just made things accessible. It, it, it made people who needed it, you know, able to be independent and in so many ways, whether it's curb cuts, whether it's door handles, whether it's automatic doors, um, it was needed. And I said, I thank God for it at this point. I, even though I didn't know or care really when I was a kid and you know, I saw them doing things I thought that doesn't affect me or has no impact on my life. But—

Stephanie:

I, I'm just going to play off what Mike's talking about. I think it's important what you said in the beginning about, you know, taking for granted some of the amenities or luxuries as people without disabilities see them or not for, for example, the the grocery store doors. Think how as an able-bodied person, people get so flustered or angry when they don't work. I can't get through. I can't open it up. Imagine being in a wheelchair or a person with a disability that depends on, on that, that's--

Shelly:

Our everyday life.

Stephanie:

Exactly. You know, if I would want listeners to think about anything as we, you know, this is the year 2020 where the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates 30 years. It seems hard to believe that it's only 30 years old, but you know, take, don't take these things for granted. Think about the conveniences as some people think of them and really think about what the impact is for people with disabilities when they don't work. It's not just, an inconvenience for someone that can't get their shopping cart through the door. It's a, it's a necessity of everyday life.

Shelly:

Yeah. Yeah. So I'm going to trump you on that one, Mike, and I'm going to roll you back another 20 years because I was born as an amputee in the 70's and so I was in college by the time this whole—

Mike:

--like you saw the change. So like you, it went from like nothing, right? Like nothing. And there were no automatic doors for you in elementary school, right?

Shelly :

No. Yeah. And I actually, since I couldn't get up the two large flights of steps to get to where my classes were, instead of them moving them, and this was mid-seventies, I went down five steps to the basement and I took half of my classes with special needs IDD students. So because that was their answer to fixing the problem rather than moving my classroom down to the first floor because there wasn't any advocacy for me. So I spent a good chunk of my, all my childhood and my early youth and adulthood in adapting myself to the world. So when I'm on Facebook and I see these closed pages of new persons with new disabilities and they're newbies at this whole thing and they're grumbling, I'm like, hold up, you've got it. You've got the cake and the sprinkles. You know, you just don't have—

Mike:

I mean, two things that I thought of just now while you were talking. Um, you know, when I, after my accident, I started college, one place, walking, running, jumping and being, you know, able-bodied and then got my accident the following year I went back to college and they would, I went to a small branch of Penn State up at Penn State Schuylkill in Schuylkill Haven. And, um, you know, if they didn't have an elevator, like you said, they would move a class for me. You know what I mean? Like I could, you know, I would schedule first, like I got the benefits of everything and it was, it was nice, you know, like I would schedule my classes first and they would move it around and, and do that stuff. So that would be great. Um, I totally forgot the other thing you were talking about while you were talking. I knew that was going to happen. I was like—

Shelly :

but I noticed the college, if I went to East Stroudsburg, I noticed the same thing. I got to schedule my classes before seniors.

Mike:

Right.

Shelly:

So I was like, "Woohoo!" It has its benefits, um, once in a while. What was life like even before the 70's, you know, we're talking maybe a hundred years, World War II. Does anybody know the history about what it was like for persons with disabilities, you know, couple of decades ago? Do either one or, you know?

Mike:

I don't, I don't, I don't want to, you know, make a, make a terrible, um, error. But I'm, I think a lot of people with physical disabilities, it was almost the same with what they did with people with mental disabilities. They were institutionalized. It would go into whatever they called them. I don't know if they were asylums necessarily or homes for the, disable...They didn't even call them disabled back then.

Shelly:

No, they used.

Mike:

Home for crippled children.

Shelly:

Yes, Shriner's was like that. So I went to Shriner's hospital, up until 88 and I was labeled, I went to the hospital for crippled children. So to change my language in that thought internally was, was hard for me because that's how I was labeled for like 18 years of my life. Yeah.

Mike:

Okay. Does, does hearing that around other people with your disabilities, does hearing that word like ever like bother you?

Shelly :

It's cringe-worthy. It really is.

Mike:

Like in any sense just directed at, you.

Shelly:

No, in any sense. Because I, I stayed at the hospital most of my year when I was in ninth grade or third grade when I was nine. Um, and Shriners couldn't have been better. I mean, they were phenomenal. Um, but growing up they weren't crippled. They were my friends. They became my family, you know, and we did wheelchair races down the hall and we got so much trouble for that. But, you know, we were kids and so we weren't crippled. Crippled had such a negative connotation. It still does. It's like, you know, there are other words that society really does not or should not use that they still squeak in there. Um, that really, we're so much more than that. Right, right, right.

Stephanie:

So what do you say to, to older folks of older generations that are still using certain words and terminology, how do you educate them or do you, or do you educate them if you hear it in passing or conversation?

Shelly :

I think I would be remiss if I didn't at least say something because by not saying something, and we all see that in the world today, by not saying something, you're saying something, you're letting it go, saying it's okay, they're old or it's okay. That's just the way they were raised. It's not right. You know? Okay. So yesterday I was at the gym working out with my trainer and she wanted to do a flyer for this other project we're working on, on the side. And I read the whole flyer about her campaign that she's doing and I said, Hey, this looks really, really great, but I have to tell you, um, you should really change the language at the bottom. It's not disabled persons, it's persons with disabilities. So we got into that whole first person language thing and she's like, I had no idea. I'm so sorry. I'm like, that's cool, but now you know, I'll let you get this past this time, but next time I'm going to have to like, you know, beat you up. So, but you know, there are going to be some people that is just going to stick in their head and that's the way their language is going to be. But at least I can walk away saying that I attempted to make a change to be the change in the society. And maybe if somebody else says it and somebody else says it, maybe then it'll finally stick and say, Oh, you know what? Maybe she's right. Maybe I really should kind of not do that.

Stephanie:

Abilities in Motion is a Center for Independent Living and we provide resources to any person with a disability no matter their age, disability doesn't matter. Um, and we as an organization collectively use people first language. And I don't know if all of our listeners understand what that is. Yeah. Um, but speaking as an organization, it's meaning that we're putting people first and as the executive director, I want to make sure that people understand why it's important in our culture.

Shelly:

So give me an example of what that sounds like?

Stephanie:

People first language is just like you illustrated saying that person has a disability or that's a disabled person. It's, it's in our world we would say it's a person with a disability, you're putting literally the word person or people first. So collectively it's people with disabilities rather than the disabled. It's just acknowledging that it's people first. We are people. Um, and I will, and I've started here 15 years ago and it wasn't necessarily the language or lingo then even 15 years ago. So, um, as I've progressed through my career here, I've seen lots of different words and languages as far as specific to disability or other things in social services come and go. It's funny the way things develop and um, people first has sort of changed the way people talk about people with disabilities and understanding that it's, it's, it's more inclusive. And I think that's the message that people are missing. Because you know, when words change and there is different ways to refer to things, right, it can often be tossed aside as, here we go again, it's not politically correct to say this, it's not about being politically correct. It's about being a human being and understanding that, you know, because it's inconvenient for you to change your language or understand that it's offensive to say some of these things that you were referring to before. No, that's on you. And maybe you should learn and educate yourself about, about different, um, aspects of, of humanity.

Shelly:

Do you know? Cause I don't, do you know, when this whole movement of person first language started?

Stephanie:

I realized it was happening and changing just as I came on board at Abilities in Motion, which was probably just about 15 years ago. Um, a few of the, the other programmatic offices at the top of our Commonwealth started changing the way that they referred to programs. You look at us that like, um, welfare department of welfare went away. That morphed into Department of Human Services and Office of Long Term Living and those kinds of more inclusive, friendly type, um, terminology.

Shelly:

Appropriate terminology. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, um, Oh, did you think about your other idea that you were having?

Mike:

Oh, I didn't, yeah. I didn't want to leave the rehab hospital, because it was perfect. Everything was flat. Every door was automatic. Every cause that is unfortunately one of the, the, uh, I don't want to say drawbacks, but with the ADA as, as far as we've, as far as we've come. There's a lot that that could be improved. And like I said, I was, I was in a nice Inn Magee, uh, rehab down in Philly and every door was automatic. Every, every, uh, curb cut was actually flat. And like whatever, I said I was going home to Schuylkill County and everything was not, so, I don't know. I just remember that too. I did not, I was like, I'm comfortable here. I was like, everything's fine and accessible. Yeah, this is good.

Shelly:

This is good. I'm happy here, but you know what, it's, it's good for you to leave the nest like that and get out in the world because then you can be more of the change that you want, Schuylkill or beyond to be so and, and society needs that, you know, and seeing you out in the community and doing everything that you do, you know, in your everyday life, we need to be seen and not institutionalized and tucked away. Cause I can tell you about a hundred years ago, we lived in attics or cellars our whole lives and the baby was just gone. There was lost, you know, and it wasn't discussed, you know, and that's where you lived your whole life. Um, during Hitler's time we would've been amongst the first to be slaughtered, you know, for no reason, but the fact that we were born or came into our disability, the way we were imperfect and nobody is perfect. You know, we've all seen that. Um, when veterans, and then I think when the real first conversations or mumblings about, um, this whole movement came about was in World War II, veterans came home, left bits and pieces of their bodies on the battlefield to serve our country and they were expected to live in institutions just like everybody else. And they were like, no, we've served our country. The government owes us more than that. And they were right. Like they wanted to go back home to their families and their kids and things like that. Um, so Roosevelt, who they thought originally he had polio but it ended up, that being something else. They they believe but he hid yeah. Yeah. I was doing some research on that and they landed up talking to him cause he hid all of his pictures were very rarely in a wheelchair. Right. Cause he hid it cause it wasn't this the cool thing to do. Right.

Mike:

None of the cool kids had polio yet.

Shelly:

No they didn't they didn't. That didn't catch until much later. So it's okay to laugh, Stephanie. So they talk to him.

Mike:

When were wheelchairs not cool, seriously? Like I mean they were not--they were always in vogue.

Shelly:

So, yeah. So, so Roosevelt kind of in 1944 created some benefits for them and started to kind of, but then, so when Stephanie one was the, um, the ADA actually, I don't know, like it's, it was in Berkeley, California, and we had the whole Ed Roberts movement went in the 60's. And where did it go after that? Like with Ed Roberts?

Stephanie:

I think it just, it continued on and got a following and got some momentum to the point where I got the attention of, of the federal government. Um, and it's one of those acts that you don't think you need, but you need, they were facing discrimination, right? They were facing, you know, losing out on jobs because of a disability, even if you might've been the most qualified person. Um, and you know, as well as I do in, in federal, things don't happen overnight. It's not, it's not like, you know, George Bush woke up one day and said, you know what, I'm going to establish this Americans with Disabilities Act and it shall be and everyone will be fine after that. It doesn't work like that. So you know, you know, there was a large momentum through the independent living movement leading up to, to the enactment of this, of this act and law.

Shelly:

So Ed Roberts was a big one. Uh, Dustin Dart was there, Judy Heumann, and there were thousands of thousands of people.

Stephanie:

It was a landmark, you know, act to be put into place and really started giving people with disabilities a voice and understanding that they, hey, I do have the same equal rights under the law. And you know, it's a shame that we need a whole special act in order to establish this, but if that's what it takes, you know, then great. And thank you for recognizing it. And I think, like Mike said earlier, it put into practice, into place the fundamental civil rights for people. But there's still a long way to go. Until every person is able to go up and down a sidewalk independently in a wheelchair or a walker or however they ambulate there, it's not going to be the same. Yeah. So have I seen progress? Yes. I have seen progress, sometimes very slow, sometimes painful, but as long as the, you know, and that's up to the advocates to keep, to keep pushing and keep putting it in, in the spotlight and in front of legislators and in front of, of people of influence to make sure that, you know, our sidewalks are not great. I still can't, you know, get to work if I wanted to get there independently.

Mike:

I mean, honestly, like an able-bodied person in a manual wheelchair would have a hard time navigating blocks, sidewalks within a block of here. Like I said, it's even curb cuts and it's, it's not necessarily the city's fault that every curb cut isn't perfect after 15 years. You know what I mean? But like, it's just, it's, accessibility is still terrible. Just accessibility to, to the public and society is still like lacking.

Shelly :

So two, two things come to mind in talking about this and barriers and, and we'll get into that. Um, so I've gone to a convention in Vegas, uh, for a previous job. And ironically so, so they started what in the 60's but this, this casino where we were staying, this convention hall really wasn't that old and it would take me 20 minutes to walk with my amputation from my room all the way down to the convention floor because those of us who had physical disabilities that needed accessible bathrooms and such were put in accessible rooms, which sounds fabulous. Right? Hey, thanks very much. Cause it was a company that worked with amputees. The funny thing about this was was that the accessible rooms where at the very, very end of the hall of 50 rooms or more, so it would take me seven minutes just to walk from the very end, butt end of the hall up to the top of the hall where the lobby was around the corner and then down and then across blah blah blah. And it was just like, are you kidding me?

Mike:

How new was the hotel?

Shelly:

Not that old.

Mike:

Right but big enough and enough money that like you could, you could fix that though.

Shelly :

Since the ADA came in to play what in 1990 right? You'd think that maybe they'd reconfigure some of them near the very end of the hall right next to the elevators?

Mike:

No, because they still nobody, nobody on a national level that I know hires many people with disabilities to check things like this, to tell them to stay in their accessible room and say, tell me what works. Cause I, I've stayed in accessible rooms all over and it's honestly maddening because just because, just because it's a roll in shower and you have a bench—

Shelly:

A quote unquote bench the little fingers, the fingers, I see the fingers going.

Mike:

—in this attached to the wall that folds down does not mean a successful shower like for everybody. And like I said, there's just things like that up and down the line where, I don't know, I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to tell, to tell, uh, probably multinational casino and hotel chain that like this is really inconvenient. Like we appreciate.

Shelly:

Thanks for the thought, but it's an afterthought really.

Mike:

Was it a far walk from the elevator for you or are they closer to the elevators? Like is, was there any, was there any convenience to the rooms as far as disability goes to being where they were?

Shelly :

They were at the far end, so I had to walk past 50 other hotel rooms to get to the lobby where the elevators were. Then that took me seven, seven minutes. So they stuck us at the far end. Yeah, you're laughing. I know. It's sad.

Mike:

It's terrible. And that's where I like just have a clue. And this is, this is not—

Shelly:

And this was just about seven, eight years ago when I was there. So like really come on. That's no longer an excuse of Oh, you didn't know. Okay, so this conversation is going really, really well, but I see my producer is waving me down. So let's take a quick break.

Commercial :

Abilities in Motion is a Pennsylvania based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities live their lives on their own terms. Abilities in Motion strives to eliminate psychological stereotypes, physical barriers, and outdated attitudes that prevent social and civic inclusion as well as promote the independent living movement to empower, educate and advocate for individuals with disabilities. For more information about programs and services Abilities in Motion provides call (610) 376-0010 or visit our website at www.abilitiesinmotion.org

Shelly :

Welcome back. Our guests today are Executive Director, Stephanie Quigley, and Abilities in Motion Board President, Mike Gerhard, discussing the ADA. On on that thought, there's a guy I follow on LinkedIn. Andrew Purlang, (pole pole rang, P-U-L-R-A-N-G) and he wrote an article about why is accessibility design an afterthought? And one thing that I wrote on when I was researching the five titles of or sections of the ADA, a library in Queens was recently just came out last year and they spent billions of dollars creating this children's library and it's beautiful. Architecturally, it's beautiful, it really is. But the functionality is useless. It really is. Everything's built on tiers. So they have a picture of these, these study spaces to the right and all at the left side by the beautiful windows are this huge four story thing of of steps. And you have to go up all the steps to get into these reading spaces. And they were like 2,900 adult fiction books that were built on three levels or three tiers. And their, their answer after the library opened was to go get a librarian to fetch the book that the person with the disability was requesting rather than letting that person independently go. So their, their answer was to pull them and put them on the first floor. So now that they've spent and it was approved, the designs were approved, the thing was built. It's as beautiful. It's just a mess. It's a hot mess. Yeah. And now they're just, because social media and advocates, disability advocates have, you know, called them out on it, now they're going to fix it. That should never be accessible because you figure if fix uh elderly grandparents may be taking their grand kids, moms with strollers. Oh, and there's one, one elevator in the whole entire thing. So can you tell me how backed up the stroller space gets so everybody can go up to the top floor for story time.

Stephanie:

It's about having a real conversation about something like that. They didn't consult with a person with a disability. And I think sometimes as an outsider looking in as an, as an able-bodied person, the librarian being able to go get the book for the person with a disability. I think honestly in the, and this, I'm not saying this to sound challenging or or, or inappropriate, but it's almost as if they think, well that's, that's better than being able to go up and get it yourself.

Shelly:

Right, no it's not.

Stephanie:

Exactly, they don't understand that--the independence part. And I think that's where we fundamentally go wrong sometime as in when we're designing things like this is not understanding that a person with a disability wants and needs the independence to be able to do it on their own. They don't want to librarian going to get it.

Shelly:

Thank you. But no thank you.

Stephanie:

Exactly. And I, and I think it's sometimes as simple as that as far as, you know, not understanding and not putting themselves in the, in the place where a person, as a person with a disability viewing things or being able to access things.

Shelly:

But what happens if that library has really like it's story time, you know, and the story reader didn't show up and the librarian is super slammed with, like--then the person has to wait.

Mike:

Or somebody with a disability just enjoys going to the library on their own, picking a book out and maybe wants to sit there and read it on their own.

Stephanie:

What a disappointment when they arrive at that library?

Shelly:

Yeah. So maybe that's a, that's going to be another—.

Mike:

Some people actually enjoy libraries like that. You know what I mean? And like go there and spend a few hours like God forbid we uh, yeah.

Shelly:

Yeah, God forbid we'd want to be out in society.

Stephanie:

Why not? It's accessibility for all. Not, well we can get you the book or--no, design it right in the first place. But it doesn't look any different. It doesn't feel any different. It's just more accessible for everybody.

Shelly:

Right. And it's just easier and it's, subtle.

Mike:

I'm still baffled. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and you know, I, I never realized it again growing up until after my accident. But I have friends that come here from California and other parts of the country where things are newer, like they don't build things inaccessible in other places when they build new things. Pennsylvania is the only, like, I'm not saying the only place, but the east coast seems to be--

Shelly:

Like a little bit behind.

Mike:

Yeah. We're still built--like, people have built ranch houses and have two steps into them.

Shelly :

That's just stupid.

Mike:

The concept of a ranch home or a one story home is for people that don't want to navigate steps. So you're going to buy a ranch home and put two steps in, like up onto the front porch, into the front door. That's amazing. Like good planning.

Stephanie:

It's universal design. Really think about how if you're planning properly upfront, it doesn't look, I'm using air quotes, for our listeners, it doesn't look like it's been modified or that there's a major change to it that might be offensive to someone's aesthetic. You can design it universally, universally so that everybody is able to use it. Able-bodied, wheelchair, walker, stroller, skateboards, whatever. Well, the other thing is, is I've had friends and coworkers that are wheelchair users that have tried to come to the house for parties and my house has three steps, you know, a step, and then it's the porch that it's another step or two into the house. So, you know, I have to make sure that there's a ramp there, but the ramp for somebody, the pitch was too steep and they weren't comfortable with us helping, touching their chair and helping them into the house. So they just hung out in the backyard for the party, you know? So if all the houses were designed that way, then you could, you know, you could go wherever you want rather than have to bring your own ramp to the party.

Stephanie:

And it's amazing how some, some people will, will choose, you know, aesthetics over function. And it's, it's, it baffles me because even I've seen people, um, with disabilities choose, you know, aesthetic over function and I think it's, it's a little bit of peer pressure from the neighbors or they don't want to, you know—.

Shelly:

Be the ugly house kind of thing with the ramp out front. Yeah. Yeah.

Stephanie:

But, you know, and I think we're getting there. It's--attitudes are changing, but you know, not quick enough, I don't think. But again, it's, it's a lot of this stuff is, is let up to those advocates that are, that are constantly pounding on the doors of those federal officials saying, no more, let's do better. We can do better as a nation, as, as a culture. And I think now's the time to reflect on, you know, where are we, what have we done in the past 30 years? Have we done an amazing job? We've done an okay job. I'm just being honest. You know, I, I see what goes on and, and as far as in our, in our local communities and at our state level and at, of course at our federal level and there's a lot more that we can do.

Shelly :

Ed Roberts always talked about, um, and I don't know, maybe you know the quote exactly about how a disability will find each and every one of us. And I think at this point there's what one in four Americans have some sort of mental or physical disability, period. You know, so if you don't have a--so listen up, podcast world, if you do not have a disability now, it will come and find you soon. So welcome to the family when that does happen because we'll still be here and we'll still be talking about stuff like this. Cause I think it's important for everybody.

Mike:

I've said that people, people that talk to me about having a disability before they said, you know, well, you know, you end up in a wheelchair, especially at your age, isn't that, you know, extra terrible or whatever. And I'm like, no. I'm like, if you live long enough, you're going to end up either in this position or you know what I mean? Very close. Or having some other disabilities so—

Stephanie:

Part of that quote was "disability does not discriminate." It is the one thing that will touch any socioeconomic class, race, culture. It does not discriminate and you can join the club at any time. Um, so it's something to think about because you may not be experiencing it now, but like you said, you might. And then we'll be waiting for you.

Shelly :

With open arms, right? And, and clear understanding. Yeah, membership is free and you get great parking, right? Rock star parking, come on.

Mike:

The parking situation does improve as do a lot of seating at events.

Shelly:

I'm learning that now. I did not learn that until about seven, eight years ago. I went to a concert down in Philly and they were awesome. Thanks guys. And they, Santander, I think it was, we went to go see Sting and Paul Simon and a standout with summer. I had shorts on so they could see my prosthetic and I was just talking to my husband. This person came up to me and they're like, Hey, where are you sitting? How's it going? I'm like, Oh, we're really excited about the show, blah blah. He's like, where are you sitting? I'm like, Oh, we're up in the two hundreds, he's like, let me see your tickets. And he's like, Oh no, no, no, we can't have you there. I'm like, well we bought the tickets. We can have that, like it's my right to sit there. He's like, no, no, no, no, no, no. We're going to put you in a special box seats. So we ended up sitting in the the accessible space and it was phenomenal and I fell cause he's like the now the, and if you've ever gone there, you know, they're narrow, they're steep. And there were three ladies having a hey-ho time with some beers in the front, the front of us. So the steps were all like slashed with beers when we first went up there. Right? So he's like, yeah, we just can't have you there. I'm like, that's a thing? I can do that? He's like, yeah, you can just come on over here, we'll cut. I'm like, sweet. So I was like, okay, that would really honestly in the dark and those skinny little narrow steps that were now sloshed with beer. Right. It really, it--like I don't, I don't do it all the time, but I know it's, it's an option for me and it's a reasonable accommodation, which is part of what comes under the ADA. So, yeah. So moving forward, how are Centers for Independent Living, or CILs, across the nation, like Abilities in Motion, connected to the ADA?

Stephanie:

First of all, we are an advocacy organization. So we are filled with advocates. We are filled, and by filled, I mean employed. Our organization employs people with disabilities. So we know, you know, we're not just, we're not just talking. We know what we're talking about and we are really putting a lot of resource into and, and stock into people first. It's not just a phrase. Um, over half of our staff are people with disabilities. The compliment of our board of directors is over half just people with disabilities. Um, as far as what CILs can do in the next 30 years, I think I would love for there not to be a need for Centers for Independent Living with, that's not the reality. They were formed as part of that Independent Living Movement. And I think going forward, the roles might change, um, because you have to adapt with, with the times and with what's going on nationally in the, in the country. Um, and there are a strong group of, of, of, um, organizations that, that really come together when they're, when there's something that needs to be advocated for. Um, if, whether it's healthcare, that's a big, that's a big topic. I'm not even gonna—

Shelly :

That's a hot one.

Stephanie:

These groups feel like their fundamental rights are being abused or stripped. That's when you're going to see more change and more movement towards, towards, um, really enforcing what the ADA was established to do 30 years ago. Because if we can establish all of these articles and titles, but until things become a problem, they're not really enforced. Accessibility, it's, it's enforced because advocates demanded it and people with disabilities demanded it because they can't access, you know, work or leisure activities. Um, so as, as time--as times change and technology advances and things like that, I think the shift moves with, with current times and those advocacy efforts are going to look different based on what's going on in the world now.

Stephanie:

Mike, you joined as our Board of Directors. Thank you for doing that. How has that changed you personally or professionally in any way now that you see the world differently? I mean, has the board changed you and working with Abilities in Motion changed or improved your viewpoint on life?

Mike:

I'm much more focused and actually back into just disability related advocacy and I want to do something, you know, for other people with disabilities.

Shelly :

You want to be bigger than just yourself?

Mike:

I recently did another podcast, um, on adaptive driving and using hand controls and talking about, you know, like, uh, how long I had done it and you know, how I learned and stuff like that. And like that was with a lady with a disability who, uh, she's a great, um, she, uh, was injured in a diving accident when she was young. But yeah, so I'm excited. Like I said, I've been thinking about doing something like this since joining, you know, Abilities in Motion as on, on the board and stuff like that. And, uh, I'm excited with a lot of the stuff, Abilities in Motion is doing and getting, getting out there and growing and getting bigger and changing and having to adapt. And there's a lot going on with this company and I'm excited by the growth and I'm excited by, you know, new leadership and it's, I'm just really excited to be a part of it.

Shelly :

Good. So that actually perfect. Thank you. That leads right into my next question, so Abilities in Motion. You're so awesome. I just, I don't know, why don't you just take over the show. <laughing>. Thanks for that. So, uh, we talked about expanding from just our CIL, which is our core of the company into all these other departments that we have. And you know, this being our first and hopefully not our only podcast that we ever put out there. Stephanie, could you enlighten the podcast listeners of the world here? Um, what else we have besides our core CIL here at Abilities in Motion?

Stephanie:

First of all, I would like to say that I'm very excited about being on the podcast and thank you for, for having me. Yes. And I'm, I'm 100% sure there will be more. Yeah. So we are more than just some advocacy efforts and for and core services within our center for independent living, we provide all kinds of programs. We do a, we have a children and youth program. We have a summer program that provides social networking experiences and job training for students with autism during the summer when they're on break from school. We have a transition program that allows us to help people that want to get out of an institution to get out and live independently in their homes. We have a home and community-based program that provides care management to those folks that are already home and want to stay home. We have a whole litany of different programs that um, we have available. And I, and the one thing that you know is important to me as a leader here is that we design our programs based on need. If consumers or clients or, or people with disabilities as we're calling them come into our organization and say, Hey, I don't know how I can access X, Y, Z. I don't have this in my community. We really take a look at what are the needs and the gaps and try to design programs around them. And I think that's what makes us unique because again, we're putting people first. We're putting people with disabilities first. As I've mentioned, they're our staff, they're our Board of Directors, we're not going to make the same mistakes that these hotels make. We're putting people with disabilities at the center of their own care and planning and life really, and putting our money where our mouth is and employing people. And I think other employers should take the same opportunity because there is such a, an untapped market of workers and professionals that are out there that really can have a lot to contribute to the workplace.

Shelly :

We just celebrated our 30th anniversary, right. And, um, ADA is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. So there's a lot to celebrate and push the envelope even further, maybe a little faster than the last 30 years. I dunno. Um, so one final question. Where can our listeners out there when they want to learn more about where can they find AIM?

Stephanie:

We're everywhere.

Shelly :

We're everywhere.

Stephanie:

We are everywhere. We are on, we are on LinkedIn. We're on Twitter, we're on Facebook, we're on the internet. Our website is www.abilitiesinmotion.org. Um, you can Google us, um, you can call our office. We have lots of different ways to, to reach us. We're really, um, advancing our technology. Um, we're going to be launching some, uh, videos. YouTube videos to, in addition to our podcasts or we're going to be everywhere. We're, we're pretty much going to be worldwide and you'll be able to find us anytime, any place.

Mike:

I believe we can be found in the accessible seating at the Santander Center.

Stephanie:

Well, glad you brought that up. Yes. We just finished the install of our, our advertising at the Santander Arena, which is local here in Reading, Pennsylvania. Um, we were lucky enough to be able to use our, our logo and uh, our new company logo and company information on the accessible seating area. And it looks, it looks really fantastic and I'm hoping we're able to reach more people that, that have a need and, and want to reach out to abilities in motion.

Shelly :

Okay. Mike, any last words?

Mike:

I'm good. And just piggyback off her and come out and see a show at Santander center and learn more about Abilities in Motion while having taken in an event and having a really great seat.

Shelly :

Okay. And with that, I think we're going to wrap up our first show. Thank you so much out there for listening to all of us. Uh, we welcome you and we welcome any questions or comments you may have. If you want to learn more about us, please don't hesitate to reach out to us through any of our social media platforms and let us know what you want to hear in future podcasts. Thanks for listening. Talk to you next time.

Outro:

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Disability Talks. Want to keep the conversation going? Then visit our website at abilitiesinmotion.org or connect with us on social media. And remember, don't dis my ability.

Shelly's Open
The ADA and what it means to you?
People with disabilities throughout history
The ADA Movement
Commercial: Abilities in Motion's General Information
Disability issues in the community.
How are centers for independent living connect to the ADA?
What services do Abilities in Motion provide?
How can you connect with Abilities in Motion?