Smart phone? Check. Wallet? Check. Office keys? Check. Cane? Check. I went through my routine checklist today as I prepared for my hour and a half trek home from work. With all necessities in tow, the respectful driver gently assisted me into the para-transit vehicle for my usual trip to my Davidson County border transfer point. However, this turned out to be no ordinary ride.
Sometimes I socialize with other passengers, and even network. Sometimes I reflect upon my productivity of the day and consciously gear my mind up for family responsibilities and evening activities. Sometimes I utilize this stretch to unwind from my highly stimulated senses, a characteristic typical of individuals such as myself who are blind and trained to be constantly alert. Today, my driver started playing some entrancing music. At first I excitedly thought it would set the tone for me to take a little nap; but the rhythms, and beats kept pulling at my emotions. With peaked interest, I openly informed the gentlemen that it was beautiful. Rather mesmerized, I found myself listening to these unfamiliar sounds that were transcending the language-barrier and somehow pulsating a known feeling of peace and love in my heart. I quietly muttered again, “Beautiful.” In that moment, the driver and I seemed to share an understanding for he then commented that the song was from Ethiopia but was about praise and worship of our common faith, although we had no idea of our spiritual connection prior to this ride. In that moment I was flooded with gratitude and appreciation for him, the local resources and services available, rights and protections in America, and even for my disability.
This trip reminded me that we as humans are all on a journey, that life will never be completely predictable, and that disabilities are absolutely a natural part of our existence. If it weren’t for me losing sight, reaching out to empowering organizations and agencies, being receptive to new methods of accomplishing tasks such as travel, and embracing all I am as an equal and full participant of society, then I would not have been in that van with that person at this ideal time – on the cusp of celebrating 27 years of the ADA. I am thankful for all the Americans with Disabilities Act has done in our country, and in my life specifically, to ensure that I have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
by April Meredith, IL & Advocacy Specialist