More than 100 walk to Oklahoma Capitol to celebrate accessibility victories, continue equality fight
More than 100 men, women, children and even a dog or two traveled to the Oklahoma Capitol on Sunday morning to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The act was put into effect July 26, 1990. It prohibited discrimination based on disability and also codified that accommodations must be made by employers and in areas accessible to the public.
The group of grassroots activists began their trek at NW 11 and Hudson Avenue and ended on the south end of the Capitol. The route — approximately 1.7 miles — was spanned in the course of about an hour.
The group mostly traveled on sidewalks and used ramps that wouldn't exist without the passage of the Act, but even two and a half decades later, there are still challenges to face even on city streets.
A detour through a neighborhood was taken in an area of the route that's under construction and participants would otherwise have had to make the choice between traversing uneven grass and dirt or traveling on streets strewn with gravel and impeded by small barricades.
"We want our city to know that we still have a way to go when it comes to accessibility," said Mark Maddy, who led the procession of about 125 in his wheelchair to the Capitol.
"It's not 'disabled.' It's adults and children who have a disability. People first," said Ellyn Hefner, event organizer and health coordinator for the Oklahoma Family Network.
"I'm working my way out of a job. Hopefully, everyone will get it eventually," she said.
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Those involved know that the fight will continue well past this anniversary. Multiple local advocacy groups were represented and will continue to work on behalf of Oklahomans with disabilities, like Oklahoma People First, whose motto is "Nothing about us, without us."
"We learn about our rights, but we also understand our responsibilities," President Nancy Ward said.