Actually Yes, The Americans With Disabilities Act Belongs In School
I was in college when first I heard complaints against students receiving accommodations. Those complaints came primarily from other students. In a moment of empathy, I imagined myself in their place, seeing some handful of people granted extra time, a quiet room, different equipment, and all other matter of what might seem like irrelevant, nonsensical, but still so very different tools. It could, on the outside, look arbitrary enough to earn an eye roll, or special enough to spur envy.
However, every day I must walk in my own shoes and see through my own eyes. And my steps are always careful because my eyes don’t see well. A rare developmental disease destroyed the vision in my right eye and severely limited my left. This is how I literally see the world; I may not see depth, but I still live in the deep, layered world of one of America’s differently-abled. That in and of itself comes with long ponderings of identity and what it means to be both limited and feel utterly normal because this has always been life as I’ve known it.
But above all, I do know how I can struggle and how I can thrive in different settings, including academic. So while I can initially understand and forgive broad conclusions born from harmless ignorance, I do feel compelled to correct them, so everyone might understand just how important it is to allow for accommodations in school and university.
My message is to those outside of the community that benefits from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, to educate so they might see this whole other way of living. But I also address those who may not have approached their disability services office to take full advantage of what is theirs by rights.