Yesterday was the 15th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Channel 8 covered the celebration held at the Arts Garden downtown. I didn't see the other channels do so.
They interviewed Ric Edwards, the ADA director for the Department of Natural Resoures. Mr. Edwards lost the use of his legs in an auto accident in 1970, when he was fifteen.
I was transfixed. Here was a guy who spoke simply and eloquently about his life being turned upside down, and about the consequences he faced because all this happened before the federal government got involved. And because the reporter kept out of the way and let him talk, and didn't ask him to describe the emotions she'd already announced he should be feeling.
“The world's changed dramatically for somebody like me.
"The thing that I think is most important about the American with Disabilities Act isn't the curb cuts, or the access to buildings or even the employment issues. It's simply an education, an increased awareness that people with disabilities are capable of doing anything that anybody else would like to do. In fact, folks with disabilities have the same dreams as anybody else has because they are people first. They are people with dreams, hopes, aspirations. They simply have a disability as well."
I turned to my wife. "Y'know, every other frickin' day there's a 'heath report' on some new plastic surgery technique or wrinkle cream, and they stick a microphone in front of some self-absorbed thirty-or-forty something with terminal consumeritis. And here's this guy who has a real story to tell, about real problems and how we can really make a difference in people's lives by legislating compassion and inclusion. What's more, he's better spoken than anybody who works for this outfit. And you'll probably see him again. In ten years."
She switched channels shortly after, and within five minutes Channel 13's Health Beat or Health Scence or whatever it is spent five minutes on a sunblock/wrinkle cream the FDA won't let you have.
And for those of you keeping score, we also got to see the Governor cutting a ribbon somewhere. He's about to junket off to Asia on an economic mission. I think he ought to concentrate on landing some ribbon manufacturers and the makers of giant novelty scissors.