Happy Anniversary, ADA!

The following was written by community activist and retired Capital Metro employee Nancy Crowther. Read more from Nancy in today’s Austin American-Statesman.

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Once upon a time in America there was a wee little community of people with disabilities.  They were called “the handicapped.”

The phrase ‘handicapped” actually comes from a law passed in England in 1504 whereby only wounded solders could be on street corners to beg. They would often tip their hat from their uniform. They came to be known as “handy-cappers.” And so goes the phrase’s origin. Not the best of images but the label was used for people who had “something’ wrong with them.”   I actually thought, as I was growing up, that the only sports people with “handicaps” could play were golf, horse racing and bowling. I led a sheltered life.  I now find the h-word offensive.  I am one of “those” people.

I was taken to school by my father in the station wagon because there were no wheelchair lifts on the school buses. In junior high, still no lifts on buses or accommodations to help me get to school, my father, retired Army Lt. Col., arranged transportation through the US Army base at Fort Hood. I had an ambulance ride to school. Yup, a real-live ambulance with flashing lights so everyone knew when I arrived and left school, every day. That did a job on my social life! It worked!  Got me to school! Continue reading “Happy Anniversary, ADA!”

We Will Ride!

It’s hard to believe that buses didn’t always have wheelchair lifts, but even as late as the last decade, you couldn’t be assured you’d be able to board the bus if you were on wheels. A key victory for mobility advocates was the provision in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 that mandated that transit authorities have wheelchair lifts on 100 percent of their fleet.

Monday, July 26, commemorates the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This sweeping, monumental legislation created greater opportunities and equal access to services for all people. It forever changed for the better how transit authorities do business and paved the way for greater mobility for all people.

To celebrate, we’ll be talking accessibility all week next week on Capital MetroBlog, beginning on Monday with a guest blog by community advocate and retired Capital Metro Accessible Transportation Specialist Nancy Crowther.

Nancy’s lifelong advocacy for accessible transportation (including 20+ years at Capital Metro) tells the story of the evolution of the Americans with Disabilities Act and of Capital Metro’s development into a transit system accessible to everyone.

It wasn’t always that way. Continue reading “We Will Ride!”