When I was a kid I was somewhat afraid of people with disabilities. A number of older female relatives had various degrees of dementia and the very randomness of their demands and commands was frightening. Also we belonged to two swim clubs at different times and each had a member- one about my age- who was an amputee. Yep- scared by them too. Maybe in a child's mind it's the threat, "hey, this could happen to me too!" I dunno.
Then I read Douglas Bader's "Reach For The Sky". He was a British fighter pilot in WWII- and a double amputee. Flew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain, was shot down while on a Rhubarb over Nazi occupied France, taken prisoner and tried to escape... Twice!! After the War he spent much of what most people spend as leisure time in helping other amputees to enjoy an active life. He and his wife golfed and danced and led lives that he pushed right into normalcy in spite of his wounds.
I had a chance to meet him in 1979 and blew it, by the way. One of the Top Three Regrets of my life...
In any event his story totally changed my views, as did going into the medical field. Ever since and especially in my residency I'd wade right in to treating people with various disabilities with none of the old reservations. Came to regret my fears and reservations as a youth, too.
So it has been with our country. In its youth and indeed far into middle age it tried to hide away many of its citizens. Much of the population had absolutely no idea that FDR used a wheelchair most of the time due to polio. There are countless other examples.
I went to the supermarket today and it seems so did everyone else in Havertown. When there are crowds of cars and people and lines and such I've taking to amusing myself with being hyper-aware and noticing the little things. It passes the time.
I was walking along and saw this ramp built into the pavement for wheelchairs and bicycles and probably many other vehicles to use. How many times have we seen the newer concrete, of a different shade and texture than the old? We pass by these many times per day and never give them a thought and yet they sit there in mute testimony to our own indifference in the past. The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. How long have we been building asphalt roads with curbs?
"The first road use of asphalt occurred in 1824, when asphalt blocks were placed on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Modern road asphalt was the work of Belgian immigrant Edward de Smedt at Columbia University in New York City. By 1872, De Smedt had engineered a modern, "well-graded," maximum-density asphalt. The first uses of this road asphalt were in Battery Park and on Fifth Avenue in New YorkCity in 1872 and on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., in 1877."
1872 to 1990. That's a long time without ramps being commonplace.
I'm just always amazed that some progress takes place so quickly, and some takes so long. And it's usually the simpler things that take the longest.