Earlier this week, I watched the live-stream of the White House’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Live-streaming is a form of access that allows individuals to experience events, even if they are many miles away from D.C.
Listening to the President’s remarks and hearing him recognize the members of Congress, advocates, and young leaders -- I wondered what diverse stories they had to tell about how the ADA impacted their lives.
Having the ADA in my life has made a huge difference for me and many of my family members. Coming from a family of immigrants, I grew up hearing stories about my dad being told that he wouldn't be accommodated in schools and probably just should not attend school, to him immigrating to the United States and having opportunities to receive accommodations not only for himself but for my siblings and me in order for us to have the means to succeed.
In college, I organized spoken-word gatherings and competed in slam competitions. My own experiences with disability were central to the way I created my art. The Americans with Disabilities Act allowed me to receive accommodations in college, and it is in part through having these accommodations that I was able to manage the responsibilities of being a student while also participating in extracurricular activities like slam competitions.
It is through telling my story that I was able to connect with the beauty and power of the disability community.
As we celebrate the Silver Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, telling our stories about experiences with disability or with the ADA helps us understand our past and determine where we need to go in the future. It is a time to honor and empower our fellow Americans.
This month, StoryCorps and the White House Champions of Change program are working together to encourage Americans with disabilities to document and share their stories, and ultimately bring visibility to the disability experience.
StoryCorps has pulled together Animated Shorts and Audio selections from their archives to share the stories of eight Americans living with disabilities. Their stories are a reminder that we all have a story to tell.
Next Monday, July 27, the White House will host a Champions of Change event to honor disability advocates across generations. At this live-streamed event, the Champions will engage in a dialogue and share their stories of how the ADA has influenced their lives.
You can use the StoryCorps app to record your interview, then post it on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #OurADAStories.
To record an interview using the StoryCorps app:
For more information about recording your interview, visit the StoryCorps website.
Aisha Naseem is a former White House intern and program analyst at the U.S. Department of State.