Seven Favorite Posts on Disability, in Honor of the ADA’s 25th Anniversary

July 26, 2015 will be the 25th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. (It will also be my and Daniel’s 18th wedding anniversary. Have you ever read my almost unbelievable wedding ring story? It’s a good one.)

In honor of the ADA’s 25th anniversary, here are seven of my top posts on the topic of disability—pieces that blog stats and conversation with readers indicate are some of their favorites (and that I like a lot too). These posts and articles cover a wide range of disability-related topics—handicapped parking spaces and common stereotypes, the conundrums raised by genetic testing and how to make your home more accessible. I share them with thanks for the progress that the ADA has made possible and hope for the additional work that needs to be done so that people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of public and private life.

Messy Stories: Disability and the Choices Parents Make — cover story in The Christian Century magazine, November 2013

“In the illness narrative, disabilities are seen as problems in need of solving, abnormalities that will surely bring great suffering to those affected and their families. In the identity narrative, anomalous conditions such as Down syndrome, autism or deafness are regarded not as flaws but as valuable manifestations of human diversity. The so-called abnormal conditions are disabling primarily because of societal prejudice, ignorance and exclusion, not because of inherent qualities of the conditions themselves. I find both narratives incomplete, oversimplified and even dangerous when one is embraced to the exclusion of the other.”

Five Really Bad Excuses for Parking in a Handicapped Space When You Shouldn’t – blog post, February 21, 2012

“Bottom line: If you don’t have a valid handicapped parking permit in or on your car—a permit that was legitimately issued to you or someone who is riding in your car—then don’t park in a handicapped space. Ever. EVER.”

Can You Regret Having a Child Who Inherits Your Genetic Baggage? – blog post, September 29, 2014; re-published by TIME magazine online

“I’m beginning to understand that Leah’s inheritance from me is not merely a faulty gene and a fragile skeleton, but also the truest kind of compassion—the kind that arises when you know what pain looks like and feels like, and you recognize another’s need, and know just what to do.”

Where Imperfect Bodies Reign – blog post, January 31, 2012

“I just have to love a place where it’s the statuesque blonde who inspires sarcastic comments.”

Six Ways to Be Hospitable Toward People with Physical Disabilities – blog post, February 20, 2012

“Most of the world is governed by the needs of people for whom an icy sidewalk is just an icy sidewalk and steps are just steps. Spend a little time and effort to adjust your spaces and your attitude, and you’ll give people like me a tremendous gift—the gift of being welcomed just as we are, the gift of feeling safe, the gift of not having to articulate our needs all the time because those needs have already been met (quietly, routinely, effectively).”

Yes, We Can Change Cultural Assumptions About Disabilities. Here’s How.  – blog post, April 2, 2014

“We can call journalists on the incomplete nature of these narratives, and push them to tell more real, nuanced, accurate stories. We can tell our own stories, without covering up the complexities and paradoxes that are part of our lives. ”

On Being Unfixable in a World Obsessed with Fixing – blog post, April 25, 2013

“Our culture has lost appreciation for old-fashioned perseverence—enduring through difficulty, which does not necessarily mean thriving through or overcoming difficulty.”

 

About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at http://ellenpainterdollar.com for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.