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What’s an ADA?

Samantha Gervais

Anchor Staff Writer

Image via Patrick De Boeck/Pexels

This past weekend, I went to Rhode Island Comic Con. Yup, I’m that kind of a nerd. The convention celebrated ten years in business and they certainly didn’t disappoint in the entertainment department, especially the guests in cosplay. The only place they didn’t seem to excel in was some of their volunteers, staff and security.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic time at the convention and just because there were a few bad eggs, it didn’t necessarily ruin the entire thing for me, but one incident did remind me that ableism is still rampant right in our backyards. It made my stomach twist. I won’t go into detail, as it’s a very, very long story, so long story short: specific volunteers and security guards did not treat disabled attendees fairly or within a humanely means.

Upon reaching out to the convention center itself, I had heard from another woman that had a similar experience as I did and was told that when she had approached staff, none of them had ever heard of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990.

How can that be? That thought just absolutely blew my mind. How can no one have, at least, heard of the ADA? I don’t expect everyone to know the rules in and out, but at least to know of the association's existence and to acknowledge it. Alas, I seem to have been wrong.

I spoke to my friend about this incident. During this conversation, they told me that every time they had worked in a retail setting, there was never more than a paragraph’s worth of mention of ADA assistance, or a mention in training manuals, videos, or however the job decided to train them.

This thought process absolutely blows my mind. Realization sometimes can hit like a ton of bricks at times, and I think that this was one of those weekends where it really hit me. It hit me hard how prominent ableism still is in a so-called “inclusive” society, one that is currently priding itself on so much inclusivity, when it has barely scratched the surface of “including” the right people. The fact that the ADA isn’t at least a more commonly known association to everyone in society is jarring. I know I said it already, but it still is mind boggling to me.

The ADA should be more talked about, especially in work environments. There are certain procedures that are in place for workers to know both when employers are hiring new employees and even for their current staff. There also needs to be a basic understanding of how to help someone with disabilities.

Regardless, employees should be taught how to help disabled customers, clients and even how to speak to them in a proper way. Most of my experiences involve employers coming off condescending and frustrated, not knowing what to do or seeming as if a request made their life fall apart over following through with an accommodation. Now I understand it can be frustrating to make extra accommodations, but they’re necessary for us to get by.

Everyone has something, but we cannot claim to be an inclusive society when the basics of that inclusivity are not even understood or acknowledged right in front of our faces. Not yet.


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