Disabled Rights Action Committee celebrates ADA anniversary, discusses accessibility in Utah

Jul 27, 2022, 6:39 PM | Updated: Jul 28, 2022, 10:30 am

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s so much to celebrate in the month of July, including the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Much has changed since July 26, 1990, but one Utah group believes there is more their community can do to increase accessibility.

Gardening has long been a hobby for Donna McCormick, but this year, McCormick’s garden is empty.

“I miss the days of pulling weeds,” McCormick said.

Something that may seem like an everyday chore to others was McCormick’s time to herself. “There’s nothing more rewarding than pulling weeds — you take out all the frustration out,” McCormick expressed.

Her love of gardening hasn’t changed over the years, but how McCormick gardens has.

In 1995, McCormick was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis — she was 34 years old at the time.

Everyday things in life, the chores, getting around — all of that has slowly diminished over the years — yet, McCormick continues growing the things that matter most in her life.

“I try not to dwell on the negative because if I do that, that’ll cause my MS to flare up,” McCormick said. Instead, she has turned her focus to helping others.

As chair of the Disability Rights Action Committee, McCormick works to make Utah more accessible.

“I guarantee you at one point in time in your life, you will encounter a disability or become disabled yourself,” McCormick said. “That’s why we need to keep the proper laws, and there are ones that need to be changed.”

Medicare, for example, only allows McCormick to get a new power chair every five years, even if it breaks, which McCormick’s has. She uses a loaned chair while she waits.

“I’m a year out from getting a new chair,” McCormick explained. “This chair is OK, but it’s not the right fit.”

That is just one example of things McCormick wishes could change, and the other is access to transportation.

Getting around town for her involves searching for accessible cabs, Ubers, and Utah Transportation Authority rides if they’re available.

“I was supposed to go to my pediatrist this week, and I couldn’t get through. It was just busy, so I had changed my appointment again,” McCormick said.

Adam Guyman has experienced something similar. Getting around town has always been different for him, who was born legally blind.

“I can see the mountains, for example, but I may not be able to see something on the mountains,” Guyman explains his disability.

Guyman has used a cane to prevent himself from running into things, but in 2001, he was in an accident and now uses a wheelchair.

“Ever since that, there’s a lot of things I’ve noticed about different accessibility issues,” Guyman said. “There’s a lot of times that it’s hard to see a lot of things like cracks in the sidewalks, curb cuts, or curbs that don’t have curb cuts.”

Even crossing the street, Guyman can’t see the walk signs and some have no sound to let him know it’s safe to cross.

Guyman is a board member on the Disability Rights Action Committee, helping others see areas for greater accessibility.

“I take joy in the fact that I fight for disability rights,” he said.

Guyman’s experience has shown him the world is not built for those in the disabled community.

“There’s a saying that I believe: convenience doesn’t equal accessibility, accessibility equals convenience,” Guyman expressed.

Both McCormick and Guyman hope to raise awareness and grow understanding within their community.

“Disability is just an ability done differently,” McCormick said.

They are hosting a community celebration for Disability Pride Month on Saturday at Salt Lake City Library Square from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

They’ll provide multiple food trucks and a show with performers within the disabled community.

McCormick said they need help. You can reach out to (801) 685-8214 or contact@disabledrightsutah.org to volunteer.

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Disabled Rights Action Committee celebrates ADA anniversary, discusses accessibility in Utah