My Alpha would like me to tell you that today is the 21st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA was signed into law in 1990 by (bet you wouldn't have guessed this) President George H.W. Bush.
It is a law that has made positive differences for millions of disabled Americans. It still has a long, long way to go, and often those who are interpreting the law in the trenches, so to speak, choose to read things in the light most favorable to themselves, which might not be at all in the spirit in which this thing was intended. So in recognition of that fact, some amendments were written and passed into law in 2008 under the -- HOLD THE PHONE! -- the administration of that other Bush president. Will the surprises never stop coming on this?!
The amendments "emphasize that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis." [source]
Back when the elder Bush signed the original, he said, "Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down."
Why, then, two full decades after the law was passed, and a couple of years after the clarifying amendments were passed, Alpha wants to know, would a medical school have the choots-pah* to deny a deaf student CART? WHY?! she asks incredulously.
Anyway, perhaps my badger terrier sarcasm is slightly misplaced. This is a day to celebrate the Act -- which may have been the very last law in American history, ever, to have passed in an intelligent, bipartisan manner -- and not a day to get bogged down in all that politics stuff.
Was that still sarcasm? I dunno. I am only a terrier; what do I know about sarcasm?
Well, as you know, my Alpha gets a bit of a bug up her nose about certain parts of the ADA that are ignored, flat-out violated, or honored only in the breach when it comes to the hard of hearing in particular, but we won't get into that today. Because this blog is all about me, after all, and we should talk about MY disabilities.
I am fortunate. I really don't have any serious disabilities, but I can sure relate!
Some people say that I am hard to understand. If I didn't have my Alpha to be my translator, maybe they could be right. To the untrained ear, a bark is a bark is a bark. Wimpy delivery guys can't seem to tell that I'm just asking them to play, and not warning them that I am going to bite. And a whine is a whine is a whine. If it weren't for the patient (right now Abigail is reading this and saying "Patient?! Who?!" HAHA!) and almost prescient way that Alpha listens to me, I might not be able to get everything I want. I'm very lucky that way.
I'm also very small. We talked about that size discrimination thing just the other day, didn't we?
If it weren't for the fact that she always helps me to get what I....WAIT.
I want THAT! SQUIRL!!
Alpha? Squirl, please.
Want. Want. Wantwantwantwantwant. Uhh, uhh, uh. Can't....reach....WANT.
Uh, uhhh. *sniff* WANT.
WHAT.THE.FUUUUHHHH? How did I get up here?
Owwwwww. Too hiiiiiiiiigh. And slipperyyyyyyyyy.
Also, BARK BARK BARK BARKBARKBARKbarkbarkBARK! which translated in this instance means: If you are hard of hearing or late deafened, if you have tinnitus, or if you have any other disability that calls for a need for instant speech-to-text translation (ALSO KNOWN AS CAPTIONS or CART), make your voice heard! Ask for -- no, demand -- captions and CART. You are entitled to it, and you shouldn't take no for an answer. Stop letting those conference organizers and college disability benefits adminstrators play coy and like they don't know what it is -- although some of them really DON'T -- in which case, EDUCATE THEM! And stop letting them hide behind dollar signs. Yes, it costs money, but so does every other accommodation, and there are creative ways to get it paid for. Alpha talked about one example here.
And shame on some of them for hiding their knowledge of its availability, and for not telling people that the service is available of their own volition -- or the very tippy-top of the worst violation of all -- for denying it when it's legitimately requested. Shame, shame, shame.
Highly skilled, well-trained people like Alpha are sitting around a lot of the time waiting for the phone to ring and their skills are being wasted, because not enough people ask for CART and captioning. They are ready, willing, and able to serve you.
Join the CCAC and get active. And ASK FOR CART so that you can take part in society and grow and learn and enjoy life! It's not outside your reach, like my little squirrel sometimes is. It's right there for the asking!
Tell them My Alpha said so. RrrrUFF!