Incapacity Satisfaction Month rally commemorates ADA’s anniversary, requires additional change – North Texas Every day

On July 26, a rally for disability rights against ableism was held on the lawn of the courthouse in Denton Square, hosted by two local advocacy groups.

The Self Determination Group and Denton Inclusion Society hosted Disability Justice NOW! to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and to protest against forms of ableism, discrimination and violence against disabled people. Music was played at the event, speeches were given and a march around the square rounded off the night.

The ADA came into effect on July 26, 1990. As a civil rights law, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including workplaces, schools, transportation, and all public and private places open to the public. The law aims to guarantee equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

However, Cindi Paschall, assistant to the self-determination group and spokesperson at the rally, said the ADA does not guarantee the rights of people with disabilities.

“The ADA has a promise that will not be honored,” said Paschall. “We have to recognize that. Awareness is the first step towards progress. ”

The aim of the rally was also to raise awareness among people with disabilities. Martha Bergen, psychologist and training coordinator for the Society for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities, said more needs to be done for the rights of people with disabilities.

“Every step is progress, but it’s a floor, not a ceiling,” said Bergen. “We want to keep striving upwards.”

OUTreach Denton members supported the rally. Jenny Baker, board member of OUTreach Denton and exhibition coordinator at Greater Denton Arts Council, said one of the main focuses of OUTreach is human rights and equality for all.

“We’re here to support Disability Pride Month,” said Baker. “We’re here to hear what the voices of disabled people are saying about their rights and needs.”

At the rally, Alejandrina Guzman of Forth Worth and Adapt of Texas shared the story of people with disabilities who protested at Lyft headquarters in Austin, about Lyfts Elective Access Program accessible for wheelchair users. Through its LyftUp initiative during the 2020 election season, Lyft would offer rides to polling stations. However, Lyft did not initially promise wheelchair-accessible rides.

After Lyft protested for eight hours in Lyft’s office, he said it would work with the group to provide wheelchair access. Guzman said she shared this story to show that disabled people have power.

“We know laws can’t ultimately protect us, but we will protect each other,” Guzman said.

The Self Determination Group is based in Haltom City and serves 10 counties, including Denton. As a subsidiary of The Arc of Dallas-Fort Worth Area, the group advocates human rights and inclusion as well as the concept of self-determination.

For the self-determination group, self-determination means giving a person the right to take reasonable risks and make decisions without others trying to protect people with disabilities.

“We are disabled, we are proud,” said Paschall. “We don’t have a bad life – we have a good life.”

July is Disability Pride Month, but Paschall said Disability Pride shouldn’t be limited to one month.

“We don’t just need a month, we need every day,” said Paschall.

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