The following year, however, I was intrigued to learn that the law school was offering a new, small group class, "Disability Discrimination Law Seminar," taught by a newly-hired professor named Chai Feldblum, who had been one of the lead attorneys responsible for drafting the ADA. Still unsure what I wanted to do with my future legal career beyond "help people," I enrolled in the seminar, and as I studied the groundbreaking new law, I knew I'd found my passion. What I did not know -- could not have known -- was that 10 years later, I would become a parent, and that what had been until then a purely academic and professional interest would also become personal.
Now I watch my young daughter -- a polio survivor and aspiring sculptor -- cheerfully cruise down a ramp outside our local art museum in her wheelchair, and I become distracted and lost in a jumble of complicated emotions. I feel tremendous gratitude to those who made possible this access which she takes so much for granted -- beginning (ironically) with those who survived the polio epidemic of the 1950s. Yet I feel heartache for all the children before her who had to lay aside not only their dreams but their very participation in society, and for all those currently living with disabilities, especially paralyzed veterans, whose battles are far from over. My daughter brings me back to earth. "Mom," she calls out as I wait at the bottom of the stairs, "watch how fast I can go!"
The ADA is 24 years old -- a young adult, like I was when it became law. With time and experience raising and loving a child with a disability, I have changed, matured and grown, and my heart has opened wider than I could have imagined. Now, because of the ADA, and with it, our entire society has the same opportunity to understand and to evolve; and I will do whatever I can to help.
Happy Birthday, ADA!