Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act!

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary

of the

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)!

From our friends with the Superhero Project!

An exploration of the global impact of the ADA:

The Americans with Disability Act was the first major piece of national legislation in the world to address systematically the discrimination, barriers, and challenges faced by people with disabilities.

The ADA was the result of fearless, forceful and persistent advocacy initiatives fighting for the rights of all people living with disabilities in New York City, the US and around the globe.

We are reaching out to all of our friends and partners to explore the global impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

1) How has this legislation or movement impacted disability rights in your community?

2) Are there laws in place protecting individuals in your community living with disabilities?

3) What changes are needed to promote the rights of people living with disabilities in your community?

4) Are you a disability rights advocate? If yes, please describe your work?

AUSTRALIA: Sunshine Troupe

How has this legislation or movement impacted disability rights in your community? 

Australia introduced the Australian Anti Discrimination Act in 1992.  There are some marked similarities across our Act and the American Act and equally, some differences perhaps reflecting the differing ways in which our countries are governed.

https://humanrights.gov.au/about/news/speeches/disability-discrimination-legislation-and-its-implementation-1997

Are there laws in place protecting individuals in your community living with disabilities?

Yes. Australia has the Australian Anti Discrimination Act in 1992.

What changes are needed to promote the rights of people living with disabilities in your community?

Our country has in many respects progressed well when compared with other nations, however the advent of the Disability Royal Commission and the testimony of Australians with Disability has revealed many injustices, inequalities and abuse have continued to occur.

The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme has heralded some significant changes in Australia however we have a significant way to go.

One of the biggest challenges we have is the environment of low expectations and unconscious bias that prevails in our culture.

It is our pleasure to bring our stories to the stage to challenge the wider community, share our truth and confound those low expectation.

Are you a disability rights advocate? If yes, how?

Yes we are each self advocates in our way and four of us belong to Loud and Clear – a self advocacy group which we helped to form which is based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

We believe that by the very act of bringing our stories, our voices and our performances to the wider community that we are advocating for ourselves and all of our community.

We bear witness to what can be achieved when we are given an opportunity to learn and grow and are seen as valued members of our community.

What human / disability rights activities do you support in your community?

The Sunshine Troupe are now in our eleventh year of operation and have brought many and varied performances to our local community and beyond.

We have performed at mainstream events as well as disability specific events. In the mainstream we share our stories and have become members of our local theatre community which has built bridges of understanding for us and acceptance as committed performers.We perform at Charity Events and are leaders and mentors for our fellow community members by showing what is possible with commitment to our craft. We have been part of the National Having A Say Conference for two years.  This is a conference for self advocates from all over the country.

We have performed in the city centre of Brisbane, our State’s Capital in celebration of the Global Games which were held in 2019.

We were also part of the Redefining Beauty Photographic Exhibition created by Rick and Positive Exposure with local and Australian partners.  We performed at the opening of the show which was hosted by Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore.

Dr Veronica Wain

Academic/Writer/Producer

 

CANADA: Moebius Syndrome Foundation’s Kelsey Ferril

1) How has this legislation or movement impacted disability rights in your community?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was brought into law in 1982, 8 years before the ADA was created. People with disabilities, both mental and physical are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While there was no formal, specific disability legislation until as late as 2019, disabilities were always protected under the Charter.

2) Are there laws in place protecting individuals in your community living with disabilities?

Yes, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Act, which was brought into law in 1985. The province of Alberta also has a Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination against people of varying backgrounds, disabilities included. Alberta also has a human rights commission and employment standards which prohibits discrimination in the workplace.

3) What changes are needed to promote the rights of people living with disabilities in your community?

A lot of changes are needed, not just in my community, province or country. The fact is that people with disabilities are discriminated against everywhere and are often treated as second class citizens or an afterthought. Even things as simple as emergency alerts are not always accessible to those with disabilities. Accessibility should always be front of mind whether it’s being able to access public/housing buildings, education, social or employment. Laws to ensure accessibility and equal opportunity need to be enacted if they are not already and more than that, they must be enforced. As for employment equality, employers must do better in creating equal opportunities for those with disabilities and that starts with the hiring process. Further, a percentage of all workplaces should be designated to people with disabilities whether that is 5% of all employees or 50%. Any employer can say that they’re equal opportunity but how is that measured? Actions speak louder than words so they must prove that. Views, perspectives and laws must change to make society truly inclusive for all.

4) Are you a disability rights advocate? If yes, please describe your work?

I would consider myself an advocate. It’s what I’ve dedicated my life to. I have been featured in a national Canadian magazine, on local and national news multiple times and was cast in a CBC show discussing disability stereotypes and misconceptions. Almost all of the media engagements that I’ve done have been sought out and pitched to networks by me. I believe that telling my story, and our collective stories, will help foster education, awareness, acceptance and inclusion of all people, especially those with disabilities.

—Kelsey Ferrill

Board of Directors | Moebius Syndrome Foundation

CHILE: Center for Genetics and Genomics, Instituto de Ciencias e Innovación en Medicina (ICIM), Universidad del Desarrollo, Director: Andrés D. Klein

1) How has this legislation or movement impacted disability rights in your community?

Unfortunately, in Chile, we are not really aware of the work that you have been doing. People with disabilities in our country receive little help. There are some centers run by the Teleton Foundation, where medical and psychological help is given to patients and their families. Most of the money comes from charity, and the government does very little.

2) Are there laws in place protecting individuals in your community living with disabilities?

There are few laws. Now it is mandatory for large industries to hire people with disabilities. There are laws for constructing buildings with ramps and taking care of the needs of people with wheelchairs. Besides from that, there are no other laws. I am more familiar about the rare disease (RD) field in Chile. Here financial protection exists for 20 known RDs through different programs that cover diagnosis and treatments.

3) What changes are needed to promote the rights of people living with disabilities in your community?

So many… starting by changing the culture… In the attached manuscript we described the challenges of the Chilean healthcare system and legislation on RDs and we proposed policy recommendations. We also suggest creating a Latin-American cooperating network for people with rare diseases, but this could be part of a worldwide effort. I think you will enjoy the article.

4) Are you a disability rights advocate? If yes, please describe your work?

I’m in touch with rare disease patients advocacy groups from Chile and abroad. My area of research includes precision medicine in lysosomal storage disorders.

FAROE ISLANDS: MEGD, Tóra við Keldu, Forkvinna/Chairwoman

 

INDIA: Suganda Gupta, Tactile Artist

1) How has this legislation or movement impacted disability rights in your community?

I identify as a woman with Albinism having a vision impairment coming from India. Currently, I live and work in NYC and this makes it hard for me to fixate my identity or identify with one particular community. While I am Indian by birth my values, ideas, and beliefs are primarily shaped by my family and my life experiences. In India, there has been some growth in disability awareness and creation of disability community but a lot needs to be done still. Growing up I did not have any accommodations and that posed many challenges but I also did not know about ADA until I came to the United States for my masters. I think ADA is a good starting point, however, navigating my way to work from student life with ADA rules were confusing at times. It made me question my openness in sharing about my disability to potential employers making me feel more vulnerable and less empowered.

Among my community of disabled friends in NYC and around the USA, I find that ADA has done some good enforcing business to comply with providing access. However, there is no check on people who do not comply fully or with the right intentions which make disabled people needing services very vulnerable and at the mercy of what is being offered and by whom the service is being offered. ADA should be more robust and powerful in order to give people strength and confidence of being functional and independent.

2) Are there laws in place protecting individuals in your community living with disabilities?

Every now and then I have come across laws that are meant to protect people with disabilities from discrimination and get access to services. However, I have seen that not been enforced time and again both personally and in my immediate community.

3) What changes are needed to promote the rights of people living with disabilities in your community?

-Laws to be created to protect people with disabilities from being illtreated by service providers.

-Laws already in place need to be enforced with more rigor. Maybe a helpline can be created for emergencies for people with disabilities.

-Based on ADA’s requirement of non-discrimination for people with disabilities the clause that says people have the option to be discrete about sharing their disability in a workplace needs to be re-worded or rethought. If disabled people should be protected against discrimination then why make them  question about sharing their disability? A systemic change needs to happen about how disability is perceived.

People with disabilities not just in America but around the world need protection from discrimination and need services. This is not a luxury but a need and needs to be included in the legislation process.

-What are reasonable accommodations? This needs to be defined more as several employers bailout in giving jobs to disabled people on this basis.

Laws need to be put in place to ensure that employers are answerable is a disabled person discloses their disabilities. Several times employers don’t even bother responding if you share about your disability.

 4) Are you a disability rights advocate? If yes, please describe your work?

I am an advocate for disabilities not in any legal way but, from the lense of creating awareness and educating people about disabilities. I have encountered unfair demands from people asking me to do things for them using my experience, knowledge and expertise but no acknowledgment of payment. I have been discriminated against and I have experienced what its like to be ostracized. I take it as a responsibility to educate educators, students, and designers to think of inclusion, access creation and change their perspective of disabilities which is based on a medical model.

 

ISRAEL: Beit Issie Shapiro

 

 

SWEDEN: WILHELM FOUNDATION

Sweden has a good basic framework in it’s attitude to disabilities and access in form of the right to an independent living, work and school situation. The public transport system and restaurants must be able to accommodate as well. The discrimination laws are strong and cover all forms of discrimination such as disability’s, LGBTQ+ and religious views etc equally. Sweden has a good basic structure around care and support/aids etc. Which is free of charge up to 18 years of age and is entirely founded by the Swedish income tax system.

But in order to have access to the right type of care and to be able to make demands for adaptations especially in schools and workplaces, a confirmed diagnosis is required. A person with an Undiagnosed disease is often excluded from society and denied the opportunities a diagnosis in the medical record can provide.

Wilhelm Foundation works to include everyone with an Undiagnosed disease.
“Leave no one behind.”