OUR STORIES: 25 Stories of the ADA (#13)

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The month of July in 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  All of us at DEC have been affected by the ADA and we plan on spending the whole month to celebrate it, wrapping up on July 24th with our ADA Celebration Picnic.

In honor of the 25 years of the ADA, we’ll be posting Our Stories every day – telling the stories of how the ADA has affected people individually.  Today we share Joseph Barrett’s story.

The ADA has given me the opportunity to participate in the community through education, employment, and leisure activities. Simply put, the ADA has extended opportunities by changing attitudes and beliefs about the disabled.
I’ve had many experiences with the ADA. As a user of Assistive Technology (adapted vehicle) and Durable Medical Equipment (wheelchair), the ADA has affected me in the form of a reasonable accommodation. For example, when I wrecked my vehicle in 2014, my employer granted me a workplace accommodation so that I could continue working (from home) and getting paid. Another experience involved the use of leave as an accommodation; here it was to have equipment serviced–since I was unable to work during this time, I had to draw down my accrued sick and vacation time before using unpaid leave. While this provided job security and the ability to use leave for non-medical issues, drawing on sick time for equipment reinforced the stereotype of disabled employees calling out sick. In this situation, it was a positive overall experience. However, legislation must address AT/DME in the workplace, because these technologies can and do fail.
Having a disability makes you aware of the ADA, especially if you’re active. This can be a bittersweet awareness; some places are very well equipped for accessibility, while other places that remain noncompliant are unfortunate reminders that I am different and not fully accepted. While there is progress still to be made, the ADA has overall been positive for the disabled community.”