Screen shot of the Criptiques website. The text says: Criptiques. Exploring the provocative side of disability

Media Partner #26: Caitlin Wood and Criptiques

Our 26th media partner is Caitlin Wood and Criptiques!

Edited by Caitlin Wood, Criptiques is a groundbreaking collection of essays by disabled authors examining the often overlooked, provocative sides of disability. Exploring themes of gender, sexuality, disability/crip culture, identity, ableism and much more, this important anthology provides much needed space for thought-provoking discourse from a highly diverse group of writers. Criptiques takes a cue from the disability rights slogan “Nothing About Us Without Us,” illuminating disability experiences from those with firsthand knowledge. Criptiques is for people invested in crip culture, the ones just discovering it, and those completely unfamiliar with the term.

Check out the anthology, their podcasts, and their free e-book.

two stickers with black text against a white background that reads 'Criptiques.' Seven buttons in red, black and white varieties. They read either 'Criptiques' or 'Crip' in bold red text against a white background



Twitter: @Criptiques

Two young women smiling at the camera. One has brown hair in a ponytail and glasses, she is sitting in a wheelchair. Another young woman is standing behind her with shoulder-length brown hair.

Disabled Girls Talk podcast: Generation ADA

On the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Emily Ladau and Maddy Ruvolo launched Disabled Girls Talk podcast & tumblr.

Here are some excerpts from their inaugural podcast, “Generation ADA”:

Maddy: Yes. So Emily, I’m going to start off by asking you a really big question. How has the passage of the ADA impacted your life?

Emily: So my first instinct was to answer this question with one specific way the ADA’s impacted my life, but then I realized the ADA essentially infiltrates and impacts my entire life. I compare my life to my mother and my uncle, who both have the same disability that I do, and were born many years before the passage of the ADA. And there were no laws at that time ensuring equal access and equal opportunities and removing barriers and fighting against discrimination, so a lot of opportunities that are open to me were unfortunately closed to them. So that’s something that I celebrate and appreciate whenever I can, but in a way I also feel like I take the ADA for granted because even though the ADA is the reason that there are ramps, per say, in public places, that allow me to go somewhere that I might want to be with my non-disabled peers. When I’m going up that ramp I’m not thinking, “thanks ADA for making that building accessible for me.” I’m thinking, “oh right, there’s a ramp. I can get into this building like everybody else. So in a way that the fact that I’m able to take access for granted when it is available to me – unfortunately not all the time – but when it’s there and I can just appreciate it as being another part of my surroundings, I think that’s how the ADA has the biggest impact on my life. And what would you say is your big impact that the ADA has had on your life?

Maddy: Yeah, so I’m gonna go more specific here, because there’s one thing when we were talking about this that immediately sprang to mind for me and that was college. So I got sick with my chronic illness when I was in high school. And while I was in high school I had accommodations that were covered under IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. When I got to college, I was under the ADA, and the fact that I was able to go to college was completely dependent on having these accommodations, having housing – having medical housing, having academic accommodations that work with the particulars of my chronic illness. And so when I think about the ADA, I think about how I wouldn’t have been able to go to college without it. I definitely agree with you about sort of taking it for granted and about really just taking our rights for granted, which I think is good, because they’re not special privileges or things we are being gifted. They’re what we’re entitled to as human beings. We’re entitled to equal rights. And so I definitely agree with you that our sort of defining element or defining aspect of being part of the ADA generation is that we take these things for granted. And of course on days like the ADA anniversary, we celebrate those things, but yeah, in my everyday life, I don’t really think about the fact that had I been born 20 years earlier, it would have been a completely different story.

Listen to their podcast and read the entire transcript:

Do you have a podcast, tumblr or blog you would like to share with us? Email Alice:

 These disabled girls truly rock!!

Disabled Girls Talk


Twitter: @DisabledGirlPod

Emily’s Twitter: @emily_ladau

Emily’s Blog: Words I Wheel By

Maddy’s Twitter: @maddyruvolo

Multicolored background with the words: Hammer Residences, Inc., “Respecting Abilities. Reaching for Opportunities. Realizing Dreams.”

Media Partner #25: Hammer Residences Inc.

Welcome Hammer Residences Inc., the project’s 25th media partner!

Located in Wayzata, Minnesota, Hammer Residences Inc. is a nonprofit organization with a 90-year history of providing innovative services for people with disabilities to live meaningful, self-directed lives. Hammer’s mission is to provide adults and children with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to its fullest.

They provide a number of services such as residential, in-home support, case management, support planning among others. Their motto is the following: “Respecting Abilities. Reaching for Opportunities. Realizing Dreams.”

Check out three videos featuring their members:




Screen shot from Hammer's YouTube site:





Twitter: @Hammer_MN





Image with a magenta background white text. Line 1: Disabled Girls Talk Line 2: Podcast featuring Line 3: Maddy Ruvolo and Emily Ladau Line 4: An ongoing discussion about coming of age with a disability.

Disabled Girls Talk: #BecauseOfTheADA tweets

On the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Emily Ladau and Maddy Ruvolo launched Disabled Girls Talk podcast & tumblr. Kicking things off, they started a twitter conversation using the hashgtag #BecauseOfTheADA and it burned like a wildfire throughout the twittersphere!

Who says twitter activism is ineffectual? Here are a few of our favorite tweets:

For a full recap, check out the Storify of #BecauseOfTheADA:

The Disability Visibility Project is a huge fan of these two

dynamic disabled women activists!

Disabled Girls Talk


Twitter: @DisabledGirlPod

Emily’s Twitter: @emily_ladau

Emily’s Blog: Words I Wheel By

Maddy’s Twitter: @maddyruvolo

Logo for the Disability Visibility Project. A yellow background and black bold letters and images. Line one: Disability Visibility Project. Line two: A community partnership with StoryCorps. Line 3: 4 images in a row of the Golden Gate Bridge, a peach, the Chicago skyline and a trailer. Line 4: Under each image: SF, ATLANTA, CHICAGO, MOBILE TOUR. Line 4: Recording disability history, one story at a time' Line 5: July 2014-2015. Line 6: @DisVisibility #DisabilityVisibility #ADA25

Disability Visibility Project: 2 New Images for Outreach

We are excited to have 2 new images for the Disability Visibility Project! Please feel free to post them anywhere! The first image is in black-and-white if you would like to make photocopies to use as flyers (color copies are WAY too expensive!).

Be sure to check out our image gallery for other images for the Disability Visibility Project on the right hand side of our main page:

Here is the description of the image: Logo for the Disability Visibility Project. A yellow or white background and black bold letters and images. Line one: Disability Visibility Project. Line two: A community partnership with StoryCorps. Line 3: 4 images in a row of the Golden Gate Bridge, a peach, the Chicago skyline and a trailer. Line 4: Under each image: SF, ATLANTA, CHICAGO, MOBILE TOUR. Line 4: Recording disability history, one story at a time’ Line 5: July 2014-2015. Line 6: @DisVisibility #DisabilityVisibility #ADA25

Logo for the Disability Visibility Project. A white background and black bold letters and images. Line one: Disability Visibility Project. Line two: A community partnership with StoryCorps. Line 3: 4 images in a row of the Golden Gate Bridge, a peach, the Chicago skyline and a trailer. Line 4: Under each image: SF, ATLANTA, CHICAGO, MOBILE TOUR. Line 4: Recording disability history, one story at a time' Line 5: July 2014-2015. Line 6: @DisVisibility #DisabilityVisibility #ADA25


Logo for the Disability Visibility Project. A yellow background and black bold letters and images. Line one: Disability Visibility Project. Line two: A community partnership with StoryCorps. Line 3: 4 images in a row of the Golden Gate Bridge, a peach, the Chicago skyline and a trailer. Line 4: Under each image: SF, ATLANTA, CHICAGO, MOBILE TOUR. Line 4: Recording disability history, one story at a time' Line 5: July 2014-2015. Line 6: @DisVisibility #DisabilityVisibility #ADA25




An African-American woman in a long-sleeved red and white shirt. She is wearing eyeglasses and holding a microphone at a meeting.

Guest blog post: Just Not Feeling It: Happy 24th, ADA! by Anita Cameron

The following is an excerpt of a blog posted on 7/26/14:

Just Not Feeling It: Happy 24th, ADA!

Anita Cameron

I’ve been in a Grumpy Cat state of mind, of late, and today being the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) hasn’t changed that one bit. In fact, if anything, it’s made me even grumpier. Why?  I just don’t feel like celebrating when we have so far to go with it.

Now folks, before you start hating on me, realize that this is coming from MY experience and My perspective. I certainly don’t want to minimize YOUR lived experience, so if, as I’ve seen from the numerous #becauseoftheADA Facebook and Twitter posts, you’ve benefitted from the ADA, that is wonderful!

Again, before you start hating, realize that I busted my butt along with other disbility rights activists for passage of the ADA, culminating in that famous crawl up the steps of the US Capitol and the arrest of 104 ADAPT members in the Capitol Rotunda. I was arrestee number 81, one of the folks in the inner ring of people who had linked arms and handcuffed and chained ourselves together on the floor.

Needless to say, I’m grateful for the existence of the ADA and happy that there is now a generation of young folks with disabilities who don’t know a world without it. Still, there is far too much work to be done to rest on our laurels. I can’t sit easy and celebrate knowing that there are thousands upon thousands of public places that are not accessible when, for little or nothing, access can be readily achieved. How can I celebrate when the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is greater than all other groups combined?

Here’s some more stuff that’s messed up about the ADA:

For the rest of the blog post:


More on Anita Cameron:




Anita’s profile at The Mobility Resource

Anita’s articles at Yahoo! Voices:

Do you want to write a guest blog post or allow us to re-blog something you wrote for the Disability Visibility Project? Email Alice:


A young woman in a sleeveless hot pink dress and black leather boots. She is sitting in a wheelchair and wears a crown. She also has a sash that says "Ms. Wheelchair Florida."

Guest blog post: The ADA Is Not Enough by Stephanie Woodward

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been called the emancipation proclamation for people with disabilities, the greatest civil rights law for the disability community, and many other wonderful things. When it was signed into law in 1990, people in the disability community were talking about how great the ADA is, and still today, people are raving about this fantastic law. As a Disability Rights lawyer and as a 26 year old who is a part of the first generation to grow up with the ADA by my side, I have to say, the ADA is pretty awesome. It has been by my side when I wanted to get into a restaurant that was previously inaccessible, it has had my back when bus companies tried to refuse to let me ride because of my wheelchair, and it’s certainly helped with my career – after all, what’s a Disability Rights Attorney without a solid Disability Rights law?

But on the 24th anniversary of the ADA I have to say that the ADA is not enough.

I know many people agree with me on this point, but at the same time I have to listen to so many others tell me that I should just be grateful that the ADA exists at all. They tell me that 50 years ago everything was inaccessible and employers wouldn’t dream of hiring a disabled person like me (but let’s be serious, I’m a woman, so 50 years ago they wouldn’t have hired me anyway). They try to convince me to just be thankful for what I’ve been given.

But here’s the thing, I haven’t been given anything. Disability Rights activists were working their asses off for my rights long before I was born. They fought hard to get me curb cuts and accessible bathrooms. They protested so my friends could get sign language interpreters in hospitals and braille menus at restaurants. They stood united when Congress wanted to exclude people with HIV from protection under the ADA. But in working so hard to ensure that my generation of crips would grow up on a better playing field, they had to make some concessions.

So what didn’t we get in the ADA?

Well, we didn’t get a lot of things. We didn’t get the right to services and supports in our own home, we didn’t get punitive damages, and we certainly didn’t get enforcement.

Services and Supports

The ADA says employers cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in employment and that public entities and public accommodations must provide reasonable modifications to be accessible to people with disabilities. While this covers a lot of areas, the ADA doesn’t provide equal rights.

People without disabilities have the right to live where and how they choose, but people with disabilities who need assistance with activities of daily living like eating, showering, dressing, or remembering to take their medicine are forced into institutions simply because they need this assistance. Insurance will often only pay for people with disabilities to go into nursing facilities rather than paying for the assistance to be provided in the individual’s home, even though it is often cheaper to do so.

States provide the insurance for many people with disabilities for multiple reasons, but two big ones are that (1) people with disabilities tend to have low income, and (2) before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies would not cover people with pre-existing conditions. This means that States are the ones forcing their own people into facilities. States decided that they’d rather warehouse disabled people in segregated facilities than allow them to live in the community where they could live very successfully with supports and services.

Of course, since the passing of the ADA the Supreme Court in the Olmstead decision ruled that states cannot unnecessarily warehouse people with disabilities in institutions. In fact, the Supreme Court stated that unjustified placement of people with disabilities in institutions is disability discrimination. The essential point of Olmstead is that people with disabilities should not have to give up their basic civil rights of living in the community just to receive the medical services they need.

However, this decision, as great as it is, did not solve the problem. Olmstead leaves plenty of room for people to continue to be forced into institutions if it would be a “fundamental alteration” to allow them to live in the community with supports and services.

States have created some programs that allow some people with disabilities to live in the community, but thousands upon thousands of Americans are still locked away in institutions.

Though you would think it’s a fundamental right for us to all live in the community, without a law to back that right up, people with disabilities are forced into institutions.

We need the ADA to spell out our fundamental right to live in the community. We need to amend the ADA to list community based supports and services as one of our rights and prohibit States from institutionalizing us against our will.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are meant to punish an entity for breaking the law. It’s basically a sum of money that the entity must pay simply because they decided they were above the law. The ADA doesn’t have that. So if you discriminate against me, I can sue you, and you will be told to stop discriminating against me, but you won’t be punished for all the discriminating you’ve already done. You just get away with it. Not only does this make you less likely to care about discrimination since there will be no repercussions, but when other businesses see that you weren’t punished, there is nothing motivating them to follow the law either.

Think about it this way: You see me slapping a guy in the face over and over and over again. Finally, a cop comes over and tells me to stop and to never hit him again. That’s it. No arrest, no fines, nothing. I am not punished whatsoever. I just have to agree to stop slapping this guy in the face.

Well, now you decide that you don’t like the freckles on that ginger’s face that comes to your coffee shop, so you slap him in the face over and over and over again because you know the worst that is going to happen is that someone will tell you to stop. You know there are no other repercussions, so, hey, why not? His freckly face deserves to be slapped.

Well, that’s the ADA for you.

Every time a person in a wheelchair rolls up to a store and cannot get in because it’s inaccessible, that’s a slap in the face. Every time a fast food restaurant refuses to take a Deaf person’s order because they write it down rather than verbalizing their order, that’s a slap in the face. Every time a person with a service animal is refused by a taxi driver because of their animal, that’s a slap in the face. But what happens to these businesses that slap us in the face? Well, when we sue them, the judge simply tells the businesses that they cannot slap us in the face anymore. That’s it. They pay their attorneys and go home. They don’t pay the people they’ve been slapping in the face. They are not fined for slapping all these people in the past. They just have to agree to not slap us anymore.

So what’s to stop them from slapping us again? They’ve learned that there is no consequence to their discrimination. What’s to stop the business next door from discriminating against us? They’ve also learned that there is no consequence.

In order for businesses to take the ADA and people with disabilities more seriously the ADA needs to have some bite. The ADA needs punitive damages to punish those who discriminate against us and discourage others from discriminating against us in the future.


Overall, for what the ADA does cover, it covers things well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much a law covers if no one is respecting or enforcing the law.

There are thousands of new businesses that open in the U.S. every year that are inaccessible, thus violating the ADA. Despite this, building inspectors approve of these businesses to open.

Every year people with disabilities file legitimate lawsuits under the ADA because they have experienced discrimination. Despite the validity of their suits, judges dismiss them because the judges do not understand the ADA and/or have their own biases against people with disabilities.

The rights of people with disabilities are violated every day, but many people either do not know their rights so they don’t report these violations or attempt to file a lawsuit. Those that do want to file a lawsuit have a hard time finding an attorney who will take their case because many lawyers are unfamiliar with the ADA or do not want to take ADA cases because there is often no money in it for them.

In order to the ADA to actually work people with disabilities need to know their rights and be willing to fight for them, lawyers need to take the cases, judges need to understand the law and interpret it correctly. But you know what would be even better? If we didn’t even need the lawsuits, if businesses would take it upon themselves to learn about the ADA and comply with it, after all, complying with the law is a part of doing business, and if people and entities stopped discriminating against people with disabilities in general. That would be better.

If the discrimination could just stop so we didn’t need the lawsuits, that’d be awesome. I say this as a Disability Rights attorney that would lose my career if the discrimination and lawsuits stopped. I’m fine with losing my career if it means my people are finally living, working, and enjoying life in the community just like everyone else. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.

We have a long road ahead of us, which is why on the 24th anniversary of the ADA I am asking you to fight for more. I’m asking you to not “just be thankful” for what you’ve been “given,” I’m asking you to remember that our rights weren’t just willingly given to us – they were fought for and they were fought against. There were many who did not want the ADA to come into existence and there are many now who simply pretend the ADA doesn’t exist. They pretend our rights don’t exist.

It’s a long road to equality and we’re not there yet.


Stephanie Woodward is a Disability Rights attorney and consultant. Her work focuses on disability rights laws including deinstitutionalization, access to healthcare, service animals and emotional support animals, and physical accessibility of public accommodations. She is currently Ms Wheelchair Florida 2014 and a member of ADAPT.



Twitter: @IStepFunny


Check out an article about Stephanie’s recent experience encountering an inaccessible event held by the Florida Bar Association:

Do you want to write a guest blog post or allow us to re-blog something you wrote for the Disability Visibility Project? Email Alice:

Photo of Senator Tom Harkin. He has short white hair and wearing a dark suit with a white shirt. An American flag and a bookshelf full of books is in the background

Disability History: Senator Harkin Delivers Floor Speech in American Sign Language Upon Passage of the ADA (7/13/90)

Upon passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 13th, 1990, Senator Tom Harkin delivered a speech on the Senate floor in American Sign Language. Harkin, whose brother Frank was deaf, was the lead Senate author of the ADA, which was enacted later that year. His speech is the first in American Sign Language to be delivered from the Senate floor.

Screen shot of the YouTube clip of Senator Harking using American Sign language at the floor of the Senate on July 13, 1990 about the Americans with Disabilities Act:

For captions, click on the ‘CC’ button at the bottom of the YouTube screen.

For more information:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

Senator Tom Harkin



Drawing of a man with brown hair. He is wearing a red sweater and eyeglasses. The background is purple. He also has a tracheostomy

Guest blog post: The Americans with Disabilities Act: Three Disappointments, Three Victories by Andrew Pulrang

The Americans with Disabilities Act: Three Disappointments, Three Victories

Andrew Pulrang, Disability Thinking

I was too young, or rather too ignorant of disability issues and culture, to have been involved in advocacy for the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, my disability consciousness began less than a year before the ADA passed and became law. The law itself … its social and legal concepts … helped shape my understanding of disability in society, and even in myself. Some of my first work in the Independent Living / Disability Rights Movements was doing community training on the ADA. You could say the ADA and I grew up together.

That’s why it is hard for me to be objective about the ADA. Both my good feelings and bad are more feelings than studied conclusions. Nevertheless, what follows is the best I can manage in a review of what the ADA has done, and failed to do, over the last 19 years.

Three Disappointments

Slow Improvements in Accessibility … Our business districts and neighborhoods are obviously more accessible than they were in 1990. The question is whether they would be just as accessible without the ADA. State and local building codes, combined with the natural turnover of renovations and new construction have accomplished a lot. How many places made accessibility changes specifically because of the ADA? Strip malls and shopping centers, new theaters and stadiums are great, and would probably have been pretty great regardless. Meanwhile, old downtown business districts are largely unchanged, and bright young kids still open hipster coffee shops, used clothes stores, and food co-ops with narrow doors and stairs to get in, blissfully unaware that accessibility is even “a thing”.

Little Effect on Employment … Employment statistics of any kind are slippery and hard to compare, but I think it’s clear to everyone that the ADA didn’t revolutionize employment for people with disabilities. Some professional and management-level disabled workers probably benefitted a bit where more sophisticated Human Resource Departments were there to implement the ADA’s new non-discrimination policies. Most disabled workers rely more on the health of the general economy than on particular hiring practices, rising or falling by a few percentage points during booms and busts. The best that can be said is that the ADA mapped out what equal opportunity could look like. The baseline of employment, however, doesn’t seem to have changed.

Businesses Easily Adapted, and Not In The Good Way … Do you remember how scared businesses were of the ADA? That is, they said they were scared. I don’t think they’ve been scared of it for a long time now, if they ever really were. In the early ’90s, when I was involved in training programs on the ADA, I would have said it was great if businesses lost their fear of the ADA. Now I’m not so sure. My sense now is that most large and medium-sized businesses have found all the loopholes and weak points of the ADA, and realize that there’s really not much need to change how they do business. Small businesses can easily blow off the possibility of ADA troubles, or they assume they can.

These are fairly common complaints about the ADA, usually from disabled people who really had high hopes that the ADA would transform our lives. That was never going to happen. Yet, the ADA did accomplish some pretty remarkable things … bringing about benefits we only vaguely perceived back in 1990.

Three Victories

Accessible Buses and Paratransit … Most public buses, and many private ones, are now wheelchair accessible. Amtrak is becoming more accessible. Accessible taxi fleets are within sight. Maybe most remarkably, Paratransit has provided far more transportation than I think anyone expected, especially in rural and suburban areas where public transportation of any kind is sparse. Even though transportation is still spotty and often falls short of the mark, improved service and accessibility stemming from the ADA have raised expectations for mobility that probably can’t be lowered ever again.

The Olmstead Decision … Quite unexpectedly I think, the ADA provided a legal and conceptual lever to tackle the next big problem for people with significant disabilities … the persistence of institutionalization and the unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to disabled people who want to live as other people live. Once you understand how the issue relates to the concepts of equal service and most integrated setting, it’s hard to see how anyone could have missed how the ADA could create this ripple effect on a seemingly separate policy issue.

Shift In Understanding of Disability … All kinds of bad policies live on, and old mindsets die hard, but few people who think for a moment about disability think of it purely as a medical matter anymore. Whether or not they understand all of the terms of the field, most people “get”, on some level, that at last part of the disability experience is discrimination and physical barriers that are within society’s power to change, with or without medical miracles. That understanding owes a lot to the ADA, a law described at the time as “landmark”, related to disability, which contained nothing at all about treatments, research dollars, or support payments. It was all about civil rights and ending discrimination. For most Americans, that was revolutionary.

Unlike the gradual, arguably inevitable evolution in accessibility, these victories were not only accomplished because of the ADA, but shaped by it. The ADA provided some practical structure to what until then were fairly vague ideas and dreams.

In that sense, 24 years later, the ADA fulfilled has fulfilled expectations in ways we never expected.


For more about Andrew:

Disability Thinking blog:


Twitter: @AndrewPulrang




Do you want to write a guest blog post or allow us to re-blog something you wrote for the Disability Visibility Project? Email Alice:

Logo for DREDF in red letters. In black text: Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Doing Disability Justice

Media Partner #24: Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)

It’s the 24th Anniversary of the ADA and our 24th media partner is the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)!

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), founded in 1979, is a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities. Their mission:

To advance the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development.

Screen shot from DREDF's Google+ page:


DREDF blog:


Twitter: @DREDF