Archive for Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ADA legislation improved life for those with physical challenges

August 11, 2015

Twenty-five years ago I really didn’t give much thought to a newly passed law named the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush. I really never thought it would touch my life. I had no idea the new law would impact me in any way as I was very healthy and active. I figured that the only way I would slow down would be due to aging.

A decade-and-a-half later I learned that wasn’t the case due to a stroke, and now I am among the approximately 55 million Americans who benefit from the law. I am certainly glad Sen. Bob Dole and Sen. Ted Kennedy put together a bi-partisan effort in Congress to pass the ADA legislation. There was overwhelming support for the bill: it passed the Senate with a 76 “yes” vote to eight in opposition. President Bush signed the bill into law on July 26, 1990.

Of course there were those who said the revisions caused by the bill would be too expensive and that it was another intrusion by big government. That has not been the case and ADA has resulted in a better life for those of us with physical challenges.

I realize the difference it has made to my quality of life. I found out how valuable ramps were during the short time I was using a wheel chair. I remember going to my grandson’s first freshman game, and it was played on a grass field surrounded by a berm. It took two people to get me over the top. Fortunately other games were played on regular fields with ramps designed for wheel chairs. I believe all the high school venues I have been to have special seating for wheel chairs and some special seating.

I was using a cane in a few weeks, and I was able to walk into the stadiums. Which brings me to an on-going problem: steps. If I have a railing, I can manage going up and down steps at stadiums, gyms or other venues. Without a railing I have a problem. I was glad to see that the renovations to David Jaynes Field in Bonner Springs included rails in every aisle. In general, this is a feature of most high school stadiums I visit.

Even with rails, getting from the steps to the seats can be a bit of a challenge. This is due to fact that there is a jog or offset of the steps and makes entry into the bleachers a bit tricky. I like the access to the Bonner Springs gym since you enter at the top level. My only suggestion would be that they reserve the top row in one section for handicapped seating.

I used to always use steps to get exercise, but I have learned that “elevators are my friends.” When available, I always use the elevator.

In the “old days” I thought there were too many places reserved for handicapped parking – there always seemed to be vacancies. Now that I use handicapped parking, there doesn’t seem to be enough and they are often full. I have changed my mind; there should be more.

As most of you know I walk with a cane, and I can get around fairly well. I have noticed that people are very kind and helpful. People hold the door open for you, and I really appreciate that people are concerned and want to help those with a physical challenge. Yes, people are still very kind-hearted.

I’m glad that Sen. Dole and Sen. Kennedy put aside partisan problems and used their leadership to pass legislation that has helped millions of Americans.

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