BUTTE — BUTTE — It’s been 33 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Ability Montana hosted a barbecue and free carousel ride for its clients to celebrate the law that helps make the world more accessible for people with disabilities.
"I’ve had to fight for my own rights with the ADA, which is the Americans with Disabilities Act. We’ve had to fight for things like bathrooms, access to the playground," says Lucy Galarus, a 16-year-old Butte High School junior.
Galarus says she and her family have used the law to fight for access to things that you’d think would be common sense for everyone to access, but sometimes problems pop up and so the work continues.
"So some places are not readily able to make things accessible and so it takes some problem solving," said Kassie Wick with Ability Montana.
Wick says the Butte Carousel and Stodden Park are a great examples of how the ADA has worked to give access to everyone. But even with the features that allow access for those in wheelchairs to ride, there are sometimes simple things like the push buttons on doors that can be too hard to reach, or wear out, that create a barrier for disabled people—as Galarus discovered when trying to enter the building.
"Problem number two, it doesn’t work. What has to happen now is someone has to open the door and that’s not accessible to me because then I need another human to do it for me," says Galarus.
Galarus says these buttons often wear out quickly due to use, but simply having the ability to remedy that problem is a huge step in the direction of progress. Another big step is having the advocacy of Ability Montana.
"If a person with a disability says something doesn’t work for them, that’s just a cue to look into it, figure it out, because if you make something accessible for people with disabilities, it’s accessible for everyone," says Wick.
"Everybody likes the ADA: you like the bigger restroom at the bathroom, you like being able to walk into a store when it’s level. All of these amenities that the ADA has provided, everybody enjoys those. And so if somebody comes up to you and you’re a business owner and you need more information about that, please contact Ability Montana so that we can talk through that," she continued.
And Wick says not to worry - the door at the carousel is being fixed.