Blog #1: Hugo's Experience
By: Hugo Trevino, M.Ed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. This year marks the 30th anniversary since that civil rights law was passed, which prohibits discrimination based on disability. As a 31-year-old male with a severe physical disability, I am part of a generation that grew up with many privileges not afforded to many generations before me. I am the first generation to have grown with ADA and that is a beautiful thing to say. There is a lot to
celebrate but also a lot to reflect on and even more work to do for the future. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary we need to think about future generations and what we can achieve in another 30 years and beyond.
While the ADA has allowed myself and countless others to exist in many more spaces than ever imagined, the fight for a more accessible and equitable future is never over. More people need to recognize Disability as a culture and for the diversity that it brings. The United States is more accessible than it was 30 years ago, but it is still not perfect. People with disabilities still lack equal opportunity to employment, are underrepresented in leadership roles, and in many places across the country are legally allowed to be paid less than the minimum wage.
As we celebrate the ADA we must also reflect on the current climate where people are once
again fighting for further civil rights. The ADA is not a law that was granted to us because it was the right thing to do, the ADA was passed thanks to a lot of civil unrest, much like current civil unrest that is being experienced across the United States. People with Disabilities must join the current civil unrest of the Black Lives Matter movement to guarantee a better world for future generations. The systematic oppression affecting Black people is the same systemic oppression that is not letting People with Disabilities be fully integrated into society.
Having a disability is not something that happens in a vacuum. Having a disability or being disabled is the one minority group that anyone can join no matter your physical ability, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or gender. Oppression is having to understand that who I am and what I am determined to do and can do, are not determined by my racial characteristics. This oppression can make it hard to accept your true potential and even harder to accept your disability, which is why now more than ever Black Disabled Lives Matter. Accepting your disability is just one hurdle, once you have accepted your authentic self then comes time to
accept other facets of yourself. As a Disabled Gay Latino, I have had to come to terms with all my intersecting identities. It is not until you accept all aspects of yourself that you can be truly yourself and begin to gain back independence and start self-advocating.
Being a Minority Person of Color disenfranchises you, and then having a disability on top of that, disenfranchises you further. We must stand together with Black Lives Matter as they demand for education reform, access to jobs, access to housing and most importantly access to
health care. These same issues face the Disabled Community. We all deserve the right to live and advocate for a better quality of life. The ADA has granted us access to different types of durable medical equipment, treatments and medicinal drugs that has helped us live longer, more fulfilled lives. People with disabilities want to live and be an integral part of society. We are free and independent when we are granted access to life saving healthcare and treatments, not when we die due to the lack of access to healthcare. Now more than ever it is important to stand up for what you believe in and make sure that we all have equal rights and most importantly equity. The ADA was only the beginning, it has only been amended once to broaden the scope of what is a disability and who is protected. The ADA can be so much more, and we must stand together in solidarity to expand and protect the rights of every person. As John Lewis said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” Let’s make this 30th anniversary celebration be a call to action.