Editor’s Note: What follows is an essay that ASWNMU Senator Kaitlin “Kaity” Ellis has written on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Take a moment to read and consider what Kaity has to say.
Did you know that the Americans with Disability Act is a Law?
The law reads as follows:
“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — the ADA is an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” (ADA.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2016, from https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm)
So, what does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mean when it states one must have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities? It means that you must have some type of medical device, like a wheelchair, prosthetic limb, white cane, or assistive technology for the deaf, blind, and visually impaired to be able to function as a productive member of society.
As more students with disabilities are seeking to obtain higher education, many are finding that it is difficult to find university and college campuses that are ADA compliant. The most common complaints are non-accessible doors, bathrooms, buildings, including dorms, and limited access to science classrooms and labs.
Students also report being excluded from campus activities because the ones planning events fail to take into consideration that not all venues are accessible to students with disabilities. Perhaps it is time that we, the students, staff and faculty of Western New Mexico University, take a good look around our campus and look for the issues that need to be corrected. By doing so, we can be the example for other colleges and universities to follow.