How has the ADA impacted your life regarding travel/mobility, education, employment, or any other aspect?
I am a Service Dog handler and have been for 20 years. I worked for three years for the GA Dept. of Education, Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped from 1976-1979, the FL Dept. of Education, Division of Blind Services, Bureau of Client Services & Program Support and the Bureau of Business Enterprises for over 22 1/2 years. I am not only legally blind but also am a TB survivor and have COPD / emphysema. The main problem I had while employed was hanging on to my SSDI. It would have helped if the Blind Workers Equity Act would have passed. This act would have allowed visually impaired & blind workers to keep their SSDI benefits without having to deal with the hassles of Substantial Gainful Employment stress from the Social Security Administration.
Also more then once I’ve had to warn either a taxi company or business that they were violating my ADA rights especially where my Service Dog was concerned. I had one incident where I filed an ADA complaint and arrest order against a driver for a local cab company for denying access to me, my Service Dog, and my daughter who was with me. This happened in 1999 and the driver had to turn in his cab, cab license and leave the state. The arrest warrant is still valid. Not two years ago at Christmas time I had just come out of Wal-Mart with my Service Dog Bonnie when a Wal-Mart associate started screaming at me and ordering me to get my dog away from the door of Wal-Mart. I requested that she go get her manager, she refused and continued to scream at me. Well, I went back inside and told the greeter to get the manager, and he even wanted to give me trouble. I refused to let him and demanded a manager. When she arrived I took her to the exact spot and informed her I knew about Wal-Mart’s security cameras and that the associate had no reason to scream at me about my Service Dog (she had been sitting at my feet the whole time). I let the manager see that I had proper identification and that neither myself nor my Service Dog had been bothering anyone. I let her know that they were very close to getting a call from the local Center for Independent Living and the DOJ with a lawsuit to follow. Needless to say I got an apology from the manager and a promise that she would talk with the associate. I let her know that I wouldn’t tolerate any further harassment or denial of access. Since then I haven’t had any more problems. The ADA should be enforced more, especially for those of us who have multiple disabilities. Hopefully it will be.
What advances in disability rights would you like to see in the next 30 years?
- Smoother sidewalks
- Verbal crosswalks
- Better procedures at check out for those with visual disabilities.
- Better customer service and assistance to those with visual impairments.
- Cleared sidewalks without obstructions.
- Passage of the Blind Worker’s Equity Act for job security.
- More and better mass transportation. More than just daylight service and Monday thru Saturday only. More after dark and Sunday service without it being every hour or two hours.
- More respect from drivers when crossing the street.
- Better signage on shelves and assistance from customer service and fewer demands to move out of the way of people with normal sight when they see much better then we do.
- Pedestrian overpass walkways over major streets or highways.