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Tesumony on Mary Ella 1.Inden
September 27. 1988
Ladies and Gentlemen. I am deeply honored to speak before you in support of the Americans with Disabilities ac of 1989. This legislation is very much needeu, nul only for the provisiuns il contains, but also for the principle 11 embodies freedom from discrimination on the basis of a disability which will give us the opportunity to participate in American sansely as eyual members, as fully human beings..
When the áci becomes law people with disabilities will have several accepled, legal, legitimaie channels through which 10 411 their needs and grievances. There will no longer be a necessity for thuse demonstrations which ine noninvolved world may find su distastelul freer access lu jub opportunities will allow people riith disabilities ww he seen as human beings with the same needs. drives, and desires as the nunimpaired in the Herkplace perhaps periple will learn nou luistare so hard. Iw.
You see herore you a woman who did not learn unul August 10. 1987,
inat she had ine strength to help with anything or lo change her own nullnok My father tiau always chosen my paih until his death in 1964 There was no alternative housing suuauon for my father to use for me aller his death. nut a nursing home. And so. at the age of 34. I was placed in a reuremeni nume with my mulher upon his death And upon her death I was placed in the adjaceni nursing home. His estale still provides for my care. His words, “As long as I'm paying the bills. you take my orders”, have echoed through my mind whenever new challenges have offered themselves.
I was born in Chicago in 1930. allended segregated public schools. and graduated from high school in 1950 with a class rank of ninth out of forty sive. But nu plans were made for me for a career or for higher education.
because I was cunsidered 100 crippled to compele
by boin the school and
my parents. In fact, the schoul never even look the time to teach me lo write! I taught myself 10 print in 1951 after I had graduated from the public school system. However. I can still neither read oor write in cursive. Il is very embarrassing to have 10 ask someone i0 read a letter or a prosessor s comments. The effects of the schools failure to leach we are still evideni today Forlunately I had been laughi lo use ihe lyne writer by a very creative and resourceful aunt This skill has enabled me lo ublain Sixty-one hours of college credit. But I atu genuing ahead of mysell.
Boin of my parents were children of Swedish immigrants cager to succeed and to be American. They believed the doctors who made surgical adjustments on my leg and neel chords in successive operations belween ine ages us in monins and three years. I spent most of inat limc in ihe hospilal When I was six years old, a specialist told my parents that the doctors had CUI 100 much and ihai I would never be able to walk. Nowadays
a malpractice suit might have been brought against the surgeons or even the doctor who delivered me, bui nou in the 1950s and certainly not hy my
When I was seven years old I entered ine Jesse Spalding Schoul for
The Crippled. a venerable institution even then of the Chicago public school system which is sull in esistence louay I always attended segregated
schools, rode to and from schuil in a cab (paid for by the school system
and had little ne none of the usual childhood activities, especially those involving socialization. As an only child. I had no sibling 10 play with, to interact with, 10 learn from. or just to be with. The few school activities that did occur. my parents did not encourage me lo aliend. And shopping expeditions which all children love were not often possible. Twice a year I went to the dentist, went shopping, and in a restaurani. Oiherwise ! saw little of the outside world" and they saw lillle is me, as was the custom. The accessibility of public accommodations, especially in public meeting places, will open the doors for all people with disabilities and the general public will linally begin 10 see us as a'c are and learn nul in starc. cringe, or otherwise reaci 10 vur mere presence amony them. But. back school. The Icachers in the sighi saving class were unable to show id pupil aith one
usable hand how to form ihe letters of the alçhanel The embarrassment and
trying to write on the blackboard in ironi of the other students who would urile is something i still dread to remember. Afles llic teachers had declared me unable to acquire wriling skills, my palieni auni laughi me huw ili use a lypewriter during my lenin summer A lack est training in activitics of daily living skills meant that I had to learn them on my own
The years from my graduation from high school in 1951 unul 1987 are one big blur of discrimination in 1951 I studied history by a correspondence course. Each of the Iwo courses ivuk iwo years to finish because I had not learned correct study nabits in the public school system
Over those many years I have managed to acquire sixty-unc hours of college credil, much of it when accessible public transpo'lation finally becamco available through the Rail Corridor Access System. The regional transit authority provides a lifi equipped bus that will travel along the same roule
as the sunurban train system However, at this time I am unable to enroll in a four year college and complete my degree because of the inability of the transit systems 10 coniperale within the same regional authority! I want to complete my degree so that I can go to Director Jim De Jong of the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois and ask him for the most precious thing in the world. a paying inb! More than anything else I want to devote the rest of my life to the Coalition and its work on behalf of people with
I beg you to pass this bull l.el each of us make as tangible a contribution 10 American scxiely as we can The ADA will make inings possible for today's children with disabilities ihai I never even dreamed were possible for me Il is deeply needed for many reasons: chiel amung These is ihal it will show people with disabilities, as well as the whole community, that we are enulled to become l'ull human beinxs. participating in our community No longer will a person need to grow up without knowing how 10 wrile hecause leachers did not take the line to show them how to form their leiters. The increased transportation services demanded under ADA will make possible much greater inicgration of the whole community There will be no cases like mine where the disability alunc determines where we live and what we do lod only knows how many contributions sociely has missed because there were no provisions for the disabled to muve about freely and to delermine their own lives. I pray that the Americans with Disabilities Act will be passed as soon as possible so that we may become another "melled minority. Thank you very much for your patience and for this odour lunily lo socak loday
Senator WEICKER. Mary, I thank you. That is courage and optimism. Just great. Just great.
Our next witness is Jade Calegory from Corona Del Mar. Jade, nice to have you with us.
Mr. CalEGORY. Thanks.
Hi. My name is Jade Calegory. I am 12 years old and I go to Corona Del Mar High School, CDM for short, in California. I am in the seventh grade and I just started this new school last week. I have been mainstreamed since the second grade.
You see, I was born with spina bifida and I have had lots of operations. I started kindergarten on a gurney and had to go to a sepa. rate school. But now that I am OK enough, I go to a regular school. So I wanted to thank you all for passing that law, 94-142, so I can go to a school with all of my friends.
CDM is my third regular school. When I was a little kid, I got called names and was teased a lot because of my disability. I know now that it was just because those kids did not understand, but the kids at my new school are smart enough to know that I am not different because of my disability.
But still, sometimes when I meet new people, I wish they would talk to me first, before they ask what is wrong with me, or what happened to me. It makes me feel like my wheelchair is more important than I am.
Anyway, I was born in 1976, 200 years after the Constitution promised freedom and independence for all of us, no matter what. Thanks to you, and the people who sat in those seats before you, I am lucky to grow up in a world that is different than when you folks were kids. Thanks to you, people are not separated as much by their age, religion, color of their skin, disability, whether they are men or women, stuff like that. Things are getting better, but it sure does take a long time.
Even though some things have gotten better, there is more that can and should be done. It is kind of like my grades in school. They are good, but I know that if I work harder, they can get even better. (Applause.)
I guess that is why I am here today, not because America's 36 million citizens are physically challenged, but because we are also politically challenged.
Although there are over 4.5 million other kids with disabilities, there are only a few of us who have the chance to work and pay taxes. I guess I am luckier than a lot of other kids with disabilities, I work as an actor.
My movie, “Mac and Me" is out right now. Maybe you have seen it. I like it because it shows that kids with disabilities are not any different and can do the same things as other kids without disabilities, if given a chance. It is the first movie to star a kid with a disability, and it is a great family film full of adventures. I even got to do some of my own stunts.
I also think "Mac and Me” is terrific because it shows a kid with a disability giving help instead of just getting help, and nobody tries to cure me, or take away my disability by the end of the movie. (Applause.]
That gives people the idea that it is okay to be disabled and just be accepted for who you are. I hope there will be more non-disabled