ADA: Coming Down the Pike?
INTERVIEW EDGE • July 1992
Imagine turning on the evening news and seeing disabled protesters in wheelchairs chaining themselves to the front door of your company headquarters and breaking up the curbs in your parking lot with sledgehammers. Does this seem impossible?
Maybe so at your company, but such activities are now taking place in front of TV news cameras all over this country. I was in Chicago on May 13th when 200 disabled protesters in wheelchairs disrupted operations at several federal office buildings in the downtown Loop. The protestors blocked access to escalators and clutched the legs of people trying to walk past. State and city police could not agree on which agency had jurisdiction, so protestors encountered no official restraint.
Media coverage of this event detailed how another wheelchair group in Denver took sledgehammers to Denver street curbs as a way of protesting inaccessible sidewalks. The demonstration also included protestors chaining themselves to buildings, and getting out of wheelchairs and crawling through gutters to get over curbs that made wheelchair access difficult.
The point is that vocal activists in any group can be very savvy about street action that will generate media coverage. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires "physical accommodation" of disabled workers and new behavior in the interviewing and hiring process. Is your company demonstrating leadership and responsibility in today's pro-active world of demonstrations and protests, or will it make the evening news tonight?