Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

ADA: Stop complaining, start complying

By Melissa Lyans

Brett Johnson’s March 5 article, “ADA Lawsuits Take Toll,” which highlighted several recent Americans with Disabilities Act non-compliance cases in Davis, gave a biased and incomplete picture of the situation.
While I have no sympathy for lawyers like Scott Johnson, who seem more interested in personal financial gain and notoriety than in fighting for the rights of the disabled, I also have little sympathy for business owners who have had 23 years to bring their businesses into compliance with the ADA since it was passed in 1990.

I would like to provide a different picture, one of an individual who lived most of his adult life before the passage of this important milestone in equal rights. My father became a disabled veteran one horrible day in 1943, when his damaged fighter plane crashed into the trees in Sicily. He suffered grave injuries, including one to his spinal cord.

The moment his life became a physical challenge, he also endured the challenge of negative attitudes toward his disability. First the doctors said he wouldn’t live through the night, then the rehab doctors said he’d never leave his wheelchair, never drive, never work, etc.

He was determined to prove them wrong, and through hard work and development of tremendous upper body strength, he learned to walk short distances with the help of two canes. He had hand controls installed in his car, but before the era of handicapped parking spaces, he sometimes drove many times around the block before he found a parking place near enough to school and work.

There were no ramps or elevators in some of the buildings at the university, where he was pursuing a master’s degree in English literature. He walked up the stairs by gripping the railing with one hand, holding both canes and his briefcase with the other, then, one leg at a time, he dragged up the dead weight of his lower body, repeating the process for each step.

He wanted to be a college English professor, but his adviser told him that no university would ever hire a “cripple.” He applied anyway and got only one offer, from a small college in North Dakota at a salary that could not support his young family.

He turned instead to his other love — music — and enjoyed a long career as a professional jazz musician, teacher and instrument repair technician. Even in the more accepting world of music, he encountered obstacles. He landed a long-term gig at a supper club, only to be fired the first week, because one of the diners complained to the owner, saying that she came to the club to enjoy herself and did not want to have to look at a disabled musician while she ate her dinner.

Before the passage of laws that promise equal rights to individuals with disabilities, he had no recourse but to make the best of it in an unaccommodating world. The ADA is a good and necessary law. Just as was the case with other landmark laws, such as the voting rights act, there are going to be many who resist the change, and many who feel it is an imposition on their rights.

Yes, there have been some frivolous lawsuits, and it’s a good thing that the predatory practices of bad lawyers are being curbed, but there are still many businesses that are not in compliance. If we want to be a society that truly respects the rights of all its people, and a society that welcomes diversity — two underlying principles of equal rights laws — then I think it is time we stop complaining and start complying.

— Melissa Lyans is a Davis resident.

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • DB CorbettMarch 30, 2013 - 10:34 am

    Great article, Melissa! As a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor for the Ontario gov't and a private Consultant since 1998, I can tell you a LOT still needs changing when it comes to attitudes, even among professionals!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Hub of activity: DHS newspaper keeps evolving

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    A springtime ritual

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Tour Davis Waldorf School on Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    The fifth annual Tour de Cluck is soon to be hatched

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Ortiz lawn signs available

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sign up soon for spring cooking classes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Robb Davis team to rally on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Tour renovated YCCC facility Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Steadfast in their support

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4, 11 Comments | Gallery

     
    Yolo Hospice offers free grief workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sign up for Camp Kesem caterpillar crawl

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Quilters gear up for annual show

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A4

    League hosts a series of candidate forums

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    KDVS launches fund drive on Monday

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Calling all Scrabble fans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Hub webpage is seeing traffic increasing

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

    Learn Chinese crafts at I-House

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A16

     
    Preschool open house set at Davis Waldorf

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

    Birch Lane celebrates its 50th anniversary

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

     
    Hotel/conference center info meeting set

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

    Lescroart welcomes all to book-launch party

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16 | Gallery

     
    DEVO set to serve up 14th annual Winkler Dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16, 1 Comment | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Take ownership of your health

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    Not thrilled with lack of symmetry

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Reliving the agony and ecstasy of spring

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

     
    Keep your baby safe

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Vote no; it’s fiscally responsible

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 3 Comments

    Rick McKee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

     
    Core values on campus

    By Our View | From Page: A12, 3 Comments

     
    Road diet? No, city diet!

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 5 Comments

    We’re reveling in our equality

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

     
    Bill is an affront to UC Davis ag biotech and local farmers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 3 Comments

    Don’t want to sit in Fix 50 traffic? Consider alternatives

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Sports

    Stars shine in Woody Wilson Classic

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Devils burn up the track

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    UCD softball shut out by Santa Barbara

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie men shoot 9-under, lead own tourney

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggie baseball swept away by Highlanders

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    A’s score 3 in ninth, rally past Astros 4-3

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Will Davis get an Old Soul?

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

     
    Pediatricians, nurse practitioner hired at Woodland Healthcare

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Asian stocks mostly higher after mixed U.S. earnings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Yolo Federal Credit Union gets WISH funds

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    PG&E pays taxes, fees to county, cities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

     
    Davis Roots will showcase its graduating startups

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14

    University Honda wins another President’s Award

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    Dutch Bros. raises $19,000 for girl with leukemia

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, April 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8