My achey breaky advocate’s heart

Ask me why, in a system that does not require notice, those who are in violation of the ADA react with hostility to attempts to remedy the problems but then claim they are the “victims” and insist that they need a 90 day notice provision for the ADA?

I’ve never seen such a ridiculous idea in my life. Any notice that I’ve tried to give under the present act usually results in a temper tantrum, hilarious laughter, or – the most common reaction – it’s ignored.

This would all break my heart except that I am an advocate. I’ve been one for over 20 years. I’m not swayed by tears, insults, fists in the air, banging on furniture, slamming down phones in my ear, nasty letters or potty words. Words and phrases like “entitlement”, “aren’t other restaurants accessible? go there instead!”, “I don’t see why your client can’t use the toilet down the block”, and (my personal fave) “I’m grandfathered into the ADA!” no longer make me even blink an eye.

I could write a country song about how I find all of this unmoving. Like a woman wronged and left with five kids and no child support, I stand (or sit) alone in the face of accusations that I should not speak up about lack of access or accommodations for people with disabilities who want to work, go out in society and lead full and productive lives. The response is: “Sure, but go down the block to do it – go somewhere else.”

Years ago I wanted to be a songwriter. I could be cute right now and come up with some country lyrics to illustrate what I mean. But I’m too tired from advocating and I suspect we’re all better off if I just leave it up to your imagination what I might write.

Because my achey breaky advocate’s heart is not unique. It’s shared by all of us who push for the changes we need to achieve inclusion.

Copyright 2007 Ruth Harrigan

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