20 Years of the ADA

Glen Burnie, Maryland, USA

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and today I have to salute that little piece of legislation, not just for what it’s done for the disabled, but for the incidental benefits it’s brought the rest of us.

You can really see the difference traveling from the Middle East to the US with a big suitcase on public transportation. In Egypt, I dragged that suitcase up and down stairs everywhere I went. In most American airports, train stations, and subway stops, there’s a simple way to get around dragging your suitcase up the stairs: Look for the handicapped access signs, and they’ll lead you straight to the elevators, escalators, ramps and other handicapped accessible features of almost any public space! Most modern buildings have elevator access, ramps at their main entrances, and other such assistance that can be as helpful for the suitcase-toting able bodied person as they are for the handicapped.

May I note, however, that we are by no means 100% on this score. There is no handicapped access at the 86th Street subway station where Kirsten lives in New York City.  Handicapped access on the Baltimore Light Rail is reserved only for the handicapped because of the complicated nature of the contraptions used to provide it. There are still places where more access could be beneficial. I just can’t help but compare everything to Egypt, and feel really good about being back in America!

It’s also wonderful to see Candice today. Not snow nor swine flu nor the leaping boxers of Glen Burnie could keep us from meeting up this time!

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