I meant to make this post last month, you know, when the American's with Disabilities Act turned 25; but if you've been following me for a while you should know by now that I can be very sporadic when it comes to posting. So, sorry for that!
Anyway, with the ADS being legally old enough to rent a car if need be, many people assume that there isn't work to still be done in relation to rights for people with disabilities. If you assume this, you would be wrong. There are still many issues that need to be resolved; such as how prohibitive the process is for people with disabilities that need assistance is when that person decides to marry, or, if the person was married before they needed assistance they are often forced into divorcing their spouse.
Another huge area that needs improvement is in the treatment of, and social perception of, people with invisible disabilities.
One way this is happening is by a push to start using a more inclusive symbol for disabled parking and bathrooms. These new symbols would show not only a person in a wheelchair, but would also demonstrate other ways in which a person may be disabled.
The hope in doing this is that more people will stop judging those with an invisible illness or disability for exercising their legal right for equal access. This may lessen the stigma many of us face by having invisible disabilities.
It is always frustrating to come back to your car and see that someone had left you a nasty note telling you how you're a bad person who is going. It's even worse to know that there are some people out there that equate someone having an invisible disability to them "really being too use the bathroom."
Yes, I have come across someone saying that online. They actually felt that, because some people have disability tags but they can't tell what's "wrong" with the person, that it means they are free to use the disability spots without a tag if they "really need to go".
This sort of attitude prevents people that actually need to use those spaces from taking advantage of them. I know it does for me. You couldn't tell by looking at me that my lungs, throat, and nose keep me from breathing right. You can't tell from the outside that my energy on a good day is similar to what most people have when they are sick with the flu. You also can't tell the amount of pain I struggle with everyday.
In the same vein, I hear more and more reports of people who need service animals being questioned as to why they need them or they are flat out asked to leave or people will do whatever they can to distract the service animal (petting, offering treats, etc) against the wishes of the person that needs them, even if the animal has its service vest on.
I've often wondered if, because of the steps taken for people to have service animals that can warn for seizures or diabetic sugar spikes or lows, more people have begun to bring their pets into stores. Because a person with a seizure disorder, diabetes, PTSD, or any number of other invisible disabilities don't look "sick" from the outside people are treating this allowance the same as they are treating the disability stalls.
People tend to see disability allowances as some sort of perk or privilege when in reality, these allowances are there so that those of us that qualify can still live normal lives. It wasn't all that long ago when people with disabilities would be locked away or sent away and we've come a long way since that time, we just need to go a little further.