Today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I'm doing ordinary things.
I'll go to a bank and a store to run errands. I'll work. Then I might read a book before I go to bed and surf the internet.
But I know that every single ordinary thing I do is only possible because of the accommodations, technology and access the ADA has provided. For someone with quadriplegia, almost everything I do requires one of those things.
The ramps, lower counters, elevators and assistance by store employees allow me to go to banks and stores. A power wheelchair helps me get around. Computer programs like voice recognition, e readers and a hands free phone allow me to work. The ramp on my home allows me to come and go.
It wasn't just the ADA that helped me live an ordinary day today though. It was through the help of allies and dear friends. I'm very fortunate to have a job which allows me to pay for some of what I need. When they say freedom isn't free, no doubt they're talking about affording what a quadriplegic needs. I know how extraordinarily fortunate I am to have a job when so many with disabilities still cannot get one.
So my ordinary day today, as on every day, will include a prayer for gratitude. I will also pray that more people living with disabilities will have ordinary days.
I know- from experience- that what looks like ordinary isn't. That it's quite extraordinary, not because I have a disability, not because it's extraordinary that I can do what I can, but because of what it has taken to get to having an ordinary day. The message is that many others could do it as well. And will.
20 years. I've had my disability 17 years. Yes, I know what it's taken so I can have an ordinary day.
Not only is today a day to celebrate, every day is, as we continue to work so that more can have ordinary days.