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Portland Celebrates Key Disability Rights Law With An Open Mic


This weekend, Oregonians are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In Portland, people will gather on Sunday to share stories about how the anti-discrimination law has affected them, at an open mic event sponsored by Portland’s Commission on Disabilities and office of Equity and Human Rights.

Writer Daniel Salomon is among the people planning to share a story.  Salomon was ten years old when the ADA passed in 1990.

“I came of age during the ADA,” he says. “That means I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get the benefits of the ADA, growing up.”

Salomon says the law was a godsend in his pursuit of education. He has an autism spectrum disorder, and says he was placed in special education classes where he was bullied. The law helped get him out.

“My parents had to go against my school’s recommendation, and pull me out of special ed and got me into mainstream and honors classes with reasonable accommodations,” he says.

In college, thanks in part to the ADA, Salomon says he was able to qualify for extended time testing and priority housing and scheduling.

Daniel Salomon

Daniel Salomon

Today, with some help from a personal care assistant, he lives independently, writes, and volunteers with the Hoyt Arboretum. He shares his apartment with an adopted cat, Cora.

Salomon says he’s also experienced the law’s limitations. The ADA doesn’t apply to religious institutions. Salomon, who’s a devoted Christian, says in some cases in the past that has made it harder for him to find support and acceptance at church and in religious school.

Carolyn Anderson, a 64-year-old former bus driver supervisor, is also planning to share her personal story. Anderson says she has lived with several disabilities including major depression and diabetes.

 Carolyn Anderson

 Carolyn Anderson

“I have an invisible disability, and when people hear that a person is disabled, they’re expecting to see someone who may have an amputation, or may be blind,” she says. “When someone has an invisible disability, that makes it even more complicated.”

Anderson says while the ADA has helped her, she has also struggled with people who have been skeptical of her need for accommodation.

“As an African-American female, I live dealing with racism,” she says, “and then add a disability on top of that, that people don’t recognize, yes, I have to prove myself.”

The city’s ADA 25th Anniversary Celebration will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 26. More details are available here.

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