The ADA@30: The River

They go down to the rivers, the myth makers and killers. So what’s your approach to the stream? Thinking broadly can the law be the Danube or Mississippi? The essential question: was it written with hope or enmity? I say the ADA was written in hope. I say there’s some enmity “in there” oil slicks on the water, like the proviso that America’s churches don’t have to be accessible; the word “reasonable” as it pertains to accommodations—as if any request for accessibility assistance is inherently suspect. Accommodations are just what they sound like, the Archimedean thing, simple levers. 

I say the ADA is a river. I say we should sing Pete Seeger’s Clearwater song. I say the ADA is all of us—even you who don’t think disability applies at all to your life. The life you now inhabit takes twists and turns. And so your life is also like a river, one with vows bubbling just under the surface. I say the ADA is a river. I say you should look under the surface of your own life. 

I like these lines by the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz: 

Leaning on a cane at sunset

I may resemble a gardener 

Who has planted and reared a tall tree.

I say don’t think exclusively of the ADA as a set of regulations. Think of it as the river of new beginnings. 

Yes we need to care for our river. There are those who would pollute its waters—have done so, continue to think of ways to foul it. 

But hear the counsels of the inner eye and see the river. 

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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