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I applaud Hannah Eisloeffel’s “My Word” calling out Supervisor Bohn for portraying the protections of the ADA as a “black cloud.” (May the last be first and the first be last, Supervisor Bohn,” Times-Standard, April 17, Page A4) However, I grate over “wheelchair bound.” Three times, Ms. Eisloeffel stresses that the ADA is for the “most vulnerable.” The ADA has everything to do with equity and very little to do with vulnerability. I’m a curb cut-using, privileged, over-educated, over-employed, healthy white woman of 69 with visible and severe impairments that everyone sees as disability for which I should be vulnerable.

The ADA is not a “black cloud.” It It’s an imperfect law implemented by even more imperfect regulations. It is like a gray rain cloud over a parched earth that may bring some relief. Pre-ADA, some hotels had no accessible rooms, others had many. Post-ADA, those with many scaled back to the minimum. For disability conferences, I must now book multiple hotels. Pre-ADA bathrooms had a variety of grab bars. Post-ADA merchants get unfairly sued if a grab bar is an inch off a standard height that suits few as arms and wheelchair seat heights are individualized. Adjustable, diagonal, or multiple supports anyone?

Ms. Eisloeffel does not come from a position of disability rights, nor of disability justice. She employs a rhetoric of charity, embracing neither independent living nor the more progressive interdependent living. We create full access not “for” or even “with” the vulnerable, but because it is immoral not to do so for everyone. Thanks, Ms. Eisloeffel, for a “good to think” moment.

Devva Kasnitz, Ph.D.; executive director, Society for Disability Studies; Tri-County Independent Living, Eureka, vice president, Board of Directors

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