The ADA Generation Speaks: We Need More than the Minimum

A young lady wearing glasses and a cloth face mask with flower printI am pleased to have 13-year-old guest blogger Anja Herrman back with us today. I got to know Anja very well when she was nine years old and learning at home during a casting program (casts on both legs from her hips down to her ankles). She was schooled at home for two months back then, and I was her at-home writing tutor. Many of her completed assignments were published as guest posts here on our Easterseals National blog, and you can read this post from 2016 to learn how and why she had all her posts back then published under the pen name DJ Mermaid. A disability activist, Dj Mermaid will be starting high school this fall and goes by her real name now.

The Americans With Disabilities Act: A Celebration of How Far We’ve Come, and How Much Further We Have to Go

by Anja Herrman

Hello everybody. I was thrilled when Beth asked me to write a post for Easterseals about the ADA’s thirtieth anniversary. The passage of the ADA in 1990 is something I feel very passionate about, so I am excited to share my thoughts. Without further ado…the post:

Let me first start by saying that I do not know a pre-ADA America. I was born in 2006, so while I myself did not experience the Capitol Crawl or other such historical events, I am proud to say I am part of the generation of disability activists who are attempting to build on those victories to advance civil rights.

Additionally, I know how lucky I am that I didn’t have to grow up in a world where I ever had to question whether the law provided me civil rights. That said, the ADA hasn’t removed all challenges people with disabilities (PWD) face when it comes to being equals in the world. It’s my job to reveal some challenges PWD of my generation face and what the ADA needs to have added into it to change and adapt with the times.

First, the ADA needs to include push buttons on bathroom doors. I mean, it is 2020, how is this not added in yet!

Secondly, I would like to see more intersectionality regarding different types of disabilities like sensory and intellectual disabilities by requiring businesses to have a sensory safe environment, and having information presented in different cognitive levels, so everyone can understand the material.

Thirdly, and this is a big one, I believe the ADA needs to add in a clause about hiring people with disabilities in public businesses and and seeing to it that they are paid over minimum wage. People with disabilities need to be able to have a safe and accessible workplace.

My life has been impacted with the passage of the ADA, however, the ADA has certainly fallen short for me personally. I see my disability as a part of me, and some environments need to adapt to fit me. This means that I am constantly forced to take what has been written and argue that my demands fit the ADA. PWD are still a minority in this country and I feel as though the ADA needs to be updated every three to five years. Why? Because when the perceptions of the people with disabilities and those of the public change, so should the laws.

As we remember the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, let’s look back on our triumphs and make ideas on how to push forward to support the ADA Generation: the new generation of civil rights.


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  1. Kathleen Costanzo Says:

    The world needs more people with the insight, passion, and clarity that Anja demonstrates in her article. I’m more than impressed that a 13-year-old mermaid can model a pathway to progress and offer me a sense of hope for an more inclusive society. I want Anja and other like-minded people to shape our future.

  2. Andrew Korovesis Says:

    This brave little mermaid is a metaphor of courage. We all should encourage and thank her for her bravery and enduring determination to help make conditions better for herself and for others. TRULY EMPATHIC

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