A More Accessible World – The New York Times


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When Judy Heumann was growing up in the 1950s, the New York City school system barred her from attending school and instead gave her only two and a half hours a week of home instruction. Why? She was in a wheelchair, as a result of polio, and school administrators refused to accommodate her in a classroom.

Heumann grew up to become a leading advocate for disability rights. She helped organize a 1977 protest that occupied a federal building in San Francisco and focused national attention on discrimination against the disabled. After a long political fight, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990 — 30 years ago this Sunday.

Few modern laws have had as big of an impact on Americans’ lives, and the anniversary has led to reflections on what the A.D.A. has — and has not — accomplished. (Here is a package of Times stories.)

Today, no child can legally be denied schooling because of a disability. Workplaces and public spaces have been transformed. And many nondisabled people have benefited as well: I often felt grateful for the A.D.A. while pushing a stroller around New York (and not having to lift it over curbs).

But it’s also clear that disabled Americans continue to endure inequities:

  • Only 19 percent of adults with disabilities held jobs last year, compared with 66 percent of those without disabilities.

  • Children with physical and intellectual disabilities have fewer options for extracurricular activities and job training.

  • Disabled people are more likely to be incarcerated or to be victims of police violence, especially if they are not white.

  • Voter turnout is low, partly because of logistical difficulties. (“If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as otherwise-similar people without disabilities, there would be an additional 2.35 million voters,” a Rutgers University analysis concluded.)

  • Because the A.D.A. didn’t require all old buildings to be retrofitted, many remain inaccessible.

As Heumann recently told The Times, disabled Americans who have been born since the A.D.A. are eager to benefit from the law’s provisions. “They also believe that the A.D.A. is not enough,” she added.

For much more: One of the best movies I’ve seen this year is “Crip Camp,” a documentary that tells the story of the disability-rights movement through a summer camp where many leaders, including Heumann, met each other.

And give us feedback: What questions do you have about disability and accessibility? What stories should The Times be doing? Tell us here.

The United States passed four million known coronavirus cases yesterday. Over the past two weeks, case counts have risen in 37 states.

President Trump announced that he was canceling the portion of the Republican National Convention that was going to be held in Jacksonville, Fla., because of the outbreak there. It’s not clear what will happen with the gathering now.

In other virus developments:

In May and June, U.S. employers were adding jobs. People were eating out more often and spending more money in stores. But that mini-recovery seems to have ended. Multiple economic indicators — including new claims for unemployment benefits, shown here — have flatlined in recent weeks:

The main reason: The country reopened more quickly than medical experts were urging, causing virus cases to surge — and people to pull back again on normal activities. The only way to reopen the economy sustainably, many epidemiologists say, is first to crush the virus. “If we are not willing to social distance and wear face masks, more stringent lockdowns will be forthcoming,” Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Loyola Marymount University, said.

China is ordering the United States to close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, after the Trump administration’s move this week to close China’s consulate in Houston.

Still, Chinese leaders are trying to avoid a complete breakdown in relations with the U.S., as Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers explain. China is already clashing with India, Britain, Canada, Australia and many other countries, and its economy is reeling from the pandemic.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to the House floor yesterday to condemn Representative Ted Yoho, who this week referred to her with a sexist vulgarity. Watch her remarks here.

Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, called the apology from Yoho, a Florida Republican, remorseless. Other Democratic women shared their own stories of being harassed or belittled by their male colleagues.

More congressional news: 100 days out from the election, Senate Republicans are starting to distance themselves, gingerly, from the president, Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent, writes. The latest example: Rejecting his calls for a payroll-tax cut.

The food writer Rachel Sugar has a happy-sad (and relatable) essay in Grub Street about all the cooking fads she has undertaken since the pandemic began. It started with sourdough. Then came the ice cream, homemade pickles, and a brief stint with indoor gardening.

“I wanted something that would require constant attention but also demand nothing,” she writes. “I began to worry that what I wanted did not actually exist, and if it did, it might be sourdough.”

And to make: This showstopping spumoni ice cream cake, with store-bought ingredients: cherry, pistachio and chocolate ice cream, stacked atop each other.

Tyler Mitchell was only 23 years old when he shot Beyoncé for the cover of Vogue. Since then, the photographer has become known for his tender, ethereal portraits.

The Times caught up with Mitchell before the release of his debut photography monograph, “I Can Make You Feel Good.” The images capture “a world populated exclusively by Black youth in a state of perpetual summertime,” where its subjects are “all beautiful and beautifully lit and unbothered,” Max Lakin writes.

Our weekly suggestion from Gilbert Cruz, The Times’s Culture editor:

At a moment when it often seems like the best things we can do are small but meaningful actions (like wearing a mask when you’re around other people), it’s good to be reminded what it’s like when individuals put their lives on the line to effect change.

The documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble” was released two weeks before the Georgia congressman and civil rights leader’s death on July 17 at the age of 80. And even if you’ve read the obituaries and remembrances, nothing compares to seeing the archival footage of a very young Mr. Lewis marching, riding and organizing voters through the American South in the 1960s. More recent footage, filmed during the 2018 midterm elections, shows the lawmaker late in life, slower in step but no less committed to the idea of a more equitable America. It might even make you feel a glimmer of hope.

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