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by Cliff Poetz
In this February 2015 interview, Cliff Poetz, Community Liaison at the Institute on Community Integration, talked about what the ADA means in his life. Cliff is a long-time self-advocate who is frequently at the State capitol meeting with legislators, and is also an avid football fan. Video clips of the interview can be viewed at http://www.selfadvocacyonline.org/stories.
Q: What difference has the ADA made for you?
A: The ADA has made my life more accessible than it was before. For example, my apartment has an automatic door opener on my door. That means I don’t have to use a key anymore – I press a button to get into my apartment. It also has made it easier for people to go to the state Capitol and get around in the buildings. And accessibility in transportation. Metro Mobility [a local paratransit provider] has lifts so it can take wheelchairs – a couple of their buses have ramps that come up that you can wheel off. And there are regular buses that have lifts. Before you had to walk up steps. That was not good.
Most of the places I go are accessible. The University is doing bidding on some new facilities for the football field and a new education center for the athletes. They’ll have to be ADA-compliant because they’re new buildings, which is a good thing because people with disabilities will be able to go anywhere in them. And the new Vikings stadium has to be ADA-accessible. Then there’s the hospital – I remember in the early 1950s they didn’t have a ramp or anything, and where their clinic was had an incline and it was hard to get up and down that to get in and out. Now it’s accessible.
Also, the ADA allows people with disabilities to vote more easily. There are voting machines that, after you make your choices, automatically read out your choices. People at the polls show you how to use the machine and all that. There are some parts of the state where it’s not accessible for people to vote in the polls. The state needs to spend money on making them accessible. You don’t want anyone making their choices sitting in a van and not being able to go into a voting place. But that’s getting better.
Most of the makers of cell phones and computers are now looking at the market of people with disabilities. A lot of people with disabilities are going to college now, and even in high school and grade school all students are using computers and iPads, like for assignments, so they have to be accessible. Students in elementary and high schools are using the technology and will go on to use it as adults. This includes students with disabilities. Things will be made accessible because more people with disabilities need to and will use them.
Q: Do you remember when the ADA passed what your reaction was?
A: Well, it was a good thing because for so long there were no standards that people could work with. But once it passed and President Bush signed it, that was a good thing. Now the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities has been passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but it hasn’t come to the floor yet. President Obama has said he’d sign it. This will shine a light on the rights of people with disabilities around the world and this would be a good thing. It would help a lot of people.
Q: Anything else you want to say?
A: I think the ADA has done what it was intended to do.
Cliff Poetz can be reached at 612/625-0171.
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Retrieved from the Web site of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota (http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/281). Citation: Gaylord, V., Wieck, C., Nalker, M., Hewitt, A., & Poetz, C. (Eds). (Winter 2015). Impact: Feature Issue on the ADA and People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities, 28(1). [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration].
The PDF version of this Impact, with photos and graphics, is also online at http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/281/281.pdf.
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