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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, a significant milestone in the fight for civil rights, with a vision of inclusion and respect for people with disabilities. But ableism, or discrimination in favor of able-bodied people, persists, affecting the one in four Americans with a disability. What does ableism mean and why is it still a prominent problem? Anita Cameron and Keith Jones, leaders in the disability rights and disability justice movements, have answers.
Cameron, who has been arrested nearly 150 times, participated in the “Capitol Crawl” for the passage of the ADA in 1990 and, later in 2017, she was part of the widely-publicized Rotunda Takeover with the disability advocacy group, ADAPT, to protest proposed Medicaid cuts. Her influential writings shed light on topics like ableism in media and the intersection of ableism and mental health. She currently heads the Minority Outreach at “Not Dead Yet”, an organization committed to fighting ableism, or discrimination veiled as physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia of persons with disabilities.
As an African-American activist, entrepreneur, and father living with cerebral palsy, Keith Jones advocates for quality independent living for persons with disabilities. He also strives for equal access to housing, education, and voting rights – for all. In addition to his human rights work, Jones is the founder of SoulTouchin’ Experiences and has earned an Emmy award for his song “Rising Phoenix,” a documentary about the Paralympic Games. This far-ranging feature, timed to coincide with Disability Pride Month and the signing of the ADA on July 25, 1990, concludes with a commentary by Flanders.
“The lives of people with disabilities are so regulated, we don’t have true autonomy. I can guarantee you that the access to healthcare, reproductive rights and all of that, we disabled women have to fight for that access anyway.” – Anita Cameron
“They like to either say, you’re disabled or you’re a woman, you’re disabled or you’re queer, you’re disabled or you’re Black. That’s not the case. We are an intricate mosaic of identities.” – Keith Jones
- Anita Cameron: Disability Justice Activist; Director of Minority Outreach, Not Dead Yet
- Keith Jones: Human Rights & Disability Justice Activist; President, SoulTouchin’ Experiences
Portions of this interview are featured in our episode, “Anita Cameron & Keith Jones on The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Civil Rights Milestone With Miles To Go.”