Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Advocates Push for More Progress Young Adults with Disabilities Say Ada Made Difference in Their Lives

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Advocates Push for More Progress Young Adults with Disabilities Say Ada Made Difference in Their Lives

Article excerpt

For the teenagers and 20-somethings born after its passage, the Americans with Disabilities Act has ensured access to the necessary accommodations for most of their lives. Still, young disability advocacy leaders stressed the need for further progress at a panel discussion Monday during the National Council on Disabilities' quarterly meeting.

The panel presented the insight and experiences of seven young Pittsburgh-area residents who are a part of the "ADA generation," those who grew up with rights afforded to them by the act.

Rachel Campion, who has significant hearing loss, said she would not have been able to pursue her educational path without the ADA. After starting at a school for the deaf, Ms. Campion transferred to Peters Township High School, where she graduated in 2014.

Because of the ADA, she said, she was able to receive the needed interpreters and captions that made it possible to attend a regular school.

Addressing questions from the audience about how organizations could reach out to young people, panelists emphasized the importance of including young voices in decision making.

Ms. Campion said youth outreach would work only if organizations understand how young people communicate.

"I'm always on my phone," she said. "You have to be able to take advantage of that."

Josie Badger, the statewide coordinator of the "I Want to Work Project," said the passage of the ADA has created a shift in culture and identity within the disabled community.

Though the ADA has been "amazing," Ms. Badger said, she often sees young disabled people who do not fully understand the legislation's rich history and context.

"They don't see the broader community that fought for these rights," she said. "Sometimes they end up thinking they're all alone."

Ms. Badger said growing up in a rural area where ADA accommodations were slow to be implemented allowed her to see both sides of the struggle for rights. …

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