Allison M. Boot

Changing the World, One Book at a Time…

The Importance of Advocacy in the ADA Generation

by | Jun 26, 2018

People with disabilities born in the U.S. a few years prior to or after 1990, such as myself, have had the great fortune of growing up in a world where the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) exists to protect our rights and are known by older advocates as the ADA Generation.

While society still has a long way to go in terms of truly accepting people with disabilities, the ADA Generation has not had to fight for our rights with the same intensity as older advocates because we have always had the law to fall back on. The ADA Generation had a bit of a wake-up call recently when a new political party entered the White House and aspects of our very existence in society were threatened by proposed cuts to Medicaid. According to a February 2018 article on, older advocates and advocates from the ADA Generation came together in March 2017 and staged a die-in at the Capitol Rotunda in protest of the cuts which threatened the right of people with disabilities to live in our homes with the help of personal assistants and assistive devices. Many advocates at the protest were members of ADAPT, a national advocacy organization founded in 1983 with the goal of making transportation accessible. The organization has since evolved and now advocates for the right of people with disabilities to live as independently as possible with the help of personal assistants. The cuts to Medicaid were appealed after the protest allowing members of ADAPT and other advocates to celebrate a small victory.

Unfortunately, over a year later, the rights of people with disabilities are still at stake due to threats to allow states to add work requirements to Medicaid and threats to go back to insurance policies which consider pre-existing conditions. An article on details how such changes could make most people with disabilities unable to afford much-needed health insurance plans and have potentially fatal consequences for many which means the lives of people are essentially at stake as much as our rights are. This is a prime example of why older advocates and the ADA generation need to continue to come together to protect our rights. The fact that our very existence is being threatened in a world where the ADA exists shows that we need to protect our rights now more than ever.

Just as older advocates didn’t stop at Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, we can’t stop now. The ADA Generation along with older generations of advocates have a responsibility to continue to fight for acceptance and inclusion in society as well as to advocate to maintain the rights we already have. Lastly, and perhaps mostly importantly, we have a responsibility to instill the importance of advocacy into members of future generation to ensure our rights remain protected in the future.

The challenges that disability advocates often face and the responsibilities that come with being an advocate probably seem daunting to some people, but, at its core, advocacy is simply about standing up for you believe in and making your voice heard. I will admit that I’m not a very political person, but the more involved with advocacy I become, the more I understand how much politics and advocacy go hand in hand. Voting, for example, is one way people can become part of the political process in this county and ensure their voices are heard. Now that the lives of people with disabilities are essentially at stake, the disability vote is more important than ever before. One of every five people in the U.S. has a disability. There is strength in numbers. If we all come together and ensure our voices heard, then we will not only be able to protect our rights, we will be able to make equality a true reality.

As a closing to this article, I urge any and all who read it to advocate for the lives of those with disabilities in any and every way possible. Vote in local and national elections, join your local chapter of ADAPT, get involved with your local Center for Independent Living, educate others about the impact of potential Medicaid cuts so they too will join the fight for disability rights. We need allies now more than ever before. Whatever you do to advocate and help protect the rights, make sure your voice is heard! A new chapter of the Disability Rights Movement has begun, and we cannot rest will remain intact for this generations and all future generations.