I am often asked by people – they will come up to me privately – and they may have a family member or someone they love that is injured. Perhaps, not even a spinal cord injury – something different – and they truly want to know, how do I get them out of depression? Or how do I get them active in life? They want to know how I overcame these challenges. And my first heartfelt answer is-- faith. You have to have something that grounds you. Something that points you in the right direction. I have spent a lot of hours and a lot of time by myself and a lot of tears – trying to overcome certain obstacles in my life. And it wasn’t until I truly knew who I was and what I stood for, that I could overcome certain challenges. But what happens when you have faith but no support system?
I read a story recently about a lady unable to walk since an accident when she was nineteen. She never left her home. The problem was that her neighbors had built a storage room near the entrance to the building she lived in, blocking the space where she had hoped to install a ramp for her wheelchair.
She tried to take her neighbors to court to force them to remove the store room, but the case failed because she was unable to afford a lawyer. The court ruled that she had not provided sufficient evidence to support her case. I was so heartbroken by this story. I thought about this person and grieved for her desire to get outside- to feel the sunshine on her face.
It is so important to know your rights. The ADA covers barriers to employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, and telecommunications. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law to enable society to benefit from the talents of individuals with disabilities. This law is celebrated for providing people with disabilities to lead fuller, more productive lives.
The lady I mentioned above, her basic right was restricted. It leads me to wonder-- how far have we really come? Are we building community support that protects our basic rights? I know, if I could have located this woman, I would have rallied a team and we would have made our voices heard.
Make sure you know your rights, and then do all you can to protect them.