It was the early 1980’s, or perhaps even the late 1970’s when we all sat around a table attending a serious meeting to discuss the topic, “What were blind people to do now that they might take away curbs?” I was sitting in on this meeting because I was one of the few individuals with multiple disabilities. I had some usable vision and walked with a leg brace. I cared about not having curbs, but also needed the tactile cues to know I was at a curb. We couldn’t imagine them actually ramping the curbs!
It was a Friday night in 1982. My husband and I decided to use a coupon and go to a new neighborhood Chinese restaurant. We phoned to make reservations, and at the end of the conversation, I casually mentioned that I’d be bringing my guide dog. “Well,” said the voice on the other end of the line, “We don’t allow dogs here.” “But it’s a guide dog, you know, like a seeing-eye dog,” I said. “Well, we don’t allow dogs here, so you’ll have to leave the dog home.” “Then I’m not coming,” I said.
I had a great resume. My guide dog and I confidently walked into the office of a place who was hiring. I handed the interviewer my paperwork, and he barely glanced at it before he said, “How did you get dressed this morning?” I instantly knew they weren’t going to hire me. He was so enamored that a blind person could look presentable that he couldn’t think about qualifications or anything else.
That was all how it was before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You never knew if a building would be accessible. You never knew if people would say “We can’t take you here.” You only got employment because someone where you worked had a special personality, had known someone with a disability, or was someone who could look past the physical differences between the person applying for the job and themselves. Even though there are still glitches, I’m so glad that it isn’t like it was before the ADA.
Written By Guest Blogger Maureen, Lead Certified Test Consultant