May 7: National Barriers Awareness Day
On May 7th each year, we are charged with breaking down obstacles on National Barrier Awareness Day. National Barrier Awareness Day was initiated on May 7, 1986, and was a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on disability, affects the declaration of the day by bringing pertinent issues hindering people with disabilities to public notice.
Advovacates such as Independence Now, a nonprofit organization designed, governed and staffed by people with disabilities, promoted the idea that we are responsible for dissolving stigmas keeping people with disabilities from advancing in education. May 7 is an opportunity to tear down walls and build ramps that providing access. When we have misunderstandings, see the potential for the development of new technology to bridge the gap. Eliminate antiquated policies preventing those with disabilities from accessing their full potential. If there was ever a time to speak up about the questionable treatment of a human being, National Barrier Awareness Day encourages us to do so now.
“Today some 36 million Americans suffer from some form of handicap. Eighty percent of Americans will experience some disability in their lifetime. That makes it necessary for all of us to understand and appreciate both the barriers they must surmount and the contributions that they can make to our society.
Many disabled people face financial, cultural, and physical barriers because of a lack of public understanding of their needs. We must become more aware of the barriers that prevent or inhibit so many of our fellow Americans from participating fully in the life of our society, and how much more they could contribute if those obstacles were removed….”
Visible and invisible barriers are equally difficult to overcome. With advocacy, education, and awareness these obstacles can be lifted, empowering people with disabilities to live more independent fulfilled lives.
Note: The Franklin Senior Center has many relevant resources as does the town's Disabilities Commission.