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Countdown to the ADA - AAPD Speaks to Patrick Cokley

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Published on Jun 7, 2010

AAPD will release a video a week leading up to July 26, the 20th anniversary of the ADA

TRANSCRIPT


My name is Partick Cokley and I'm a resident of Washington, DC.
And I am a person with a disability. I have what's called low vision.

What does the 20th anniversary of the ADA mean to you?

The 20th anniversary of the ADA is something that's very interesting, more than just marking in time
that it's been 20 years since the signing of the original Americans With Disabilities Act,
The 20th anniversary means that it's been 20 years of carrying the torch, or sort of passing the light.
It means really a time for us to look back and sort of see what's happened as far as disability in the United States.
And also really put some significant effort into planning what our next steps forward are going to be.
What are we going to be saying happened in the 20 years after?
And what were the next steps that we took in order to further the mission of the original intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

How has the ADA impacted your life?

I'm one of those people that can claim that they're part of the "ADA Generation."
The generation of people that has benefited from the fact that the Americans With Disabilities Act came to pass when I was still in grade school.
What that means, however, is not that I've been luckier than any other person with a disability.
It does mean that a significant gain had been made by the time I came on the scene.
However, it also means that I have even more of a responsibility to continue carrying the light forward.
And doing the next steps, yes we've gotten past protests; there's still some protests to be had, but what are the next major things involved with entrenchment
with policy change, with government infiltration, how are we really going to change the culture of the United States to understand disability is a part of all of us.

What changes have you seen as a result of the ADA?

I grew up in a place where either you were blind or you weren't.
Low vision wasn't something I learned about until later on.
The ADA is one of those things that the major change that it makes is that it gives people the opportunity to be more than just a person with a disability.
Nothing wrong with being a person with a disability. But in a sense that the ADA is there to protect all sorts of people.
It protects disability. It provides for the things that we need in the workplace.
It allows people to not even be aware that they have a disability, but to know that there are protections in place to make sure they're treated equally as all Americans are.

What still needs to be done or changed regarding the ADA?

I think the next step for the ADA, even after the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act, is really more about changing the culture of how disability is percieved in America.
We're at a very exciting tipping point right now. We know with a large number of baby boomers that are going to be retiring and aging into disability so to speak,
that disability is not going to be the socially different thing that it once was.
Yeah, sure, all of us know people with disabilities. But now we're at a point where all of us not only know them, we expect to see them in the workplace.
We expect to see them out at social places. We expect to see them in restaurants. And there's still a significant cultural shift that needs to take place
in order to show that Americans are always going to be open and welcoming of these things.
It's definitely gonna be something very exciting in the next 20 years to see disability really become even more commonplace
and to sort of see how universal design and other techniques of inclusiveness really changed the face of America.

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