Ketaki Desai stands indoors looking into the camera.

For more than a decade in Pittsburgh, we lived the U.S. immigration nightmare. The pandemic sealed our move to Canada.

My husband and I lived in the United States for 18 years and proudly called Pittsburgh home for most of them. We’d built our lives and careers there: I worked as an entrepreneur, consultant and, most recently, the director of strategy at UPMC Enterprises, developing cutting-edge healthcare solutions. My husband worked for the University of Pittsburgh as a software engineer, then at UPMC Enterprises as the senior director of product management. 

Yet despite our love of Pittsburgh and our contributions to the region, we couldn’t find a way to stay. After 12 years of unsuccessful attempts to become permanent U.S. residents — applying for green cards and visas, petitioning Congress to pass fairer immigration laws, even twice accepting invitations to the White House — the pandemic finally sealed our decision to leave. 

In March, the Department of State stopped processing visas altogether, a sign that it was time to move on. We finally did what we’d been trying to avoid for years: we left Pittsburgh and moved to Canada.

Sally Hobart Alexander with her guide dog, Dave. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

COVID-19 is bringing about the end of touch as we know it, and touch has been my imperfect substitute for sight.

Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests that COVID-19 may end the era of the handshake. Others predict that the world of touch outside intimate loved ones is over. Should this come to pass, I will adapt. But as someone totally blind for the past 50 years and moderately deaf, I am already grieving the hugs and handshake restrictions. Disability has fed my appreciation of touch.

Jessica Benham is the cofounder of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy and the Democratic nominee in PA House District 36. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Disability justice is not just ramps and curb cuts; it spans health, education, the environment and more.

This year, the Americans with Disabilities Act and I, both, turn 30. The ADA is one of the pieces of legislation that provides a patchwork of civil rights protections for people with disabilities. Many of these disability civil rights laws, including the ADA, create an incomplete quilt of protections only enforceable through lawsuit. I want to live in a region, state and country where you don’t have to sue for basic rights. And, for me, it’s not just a political pursuit — it’s personal.

Marina Lopez Gonzalez Duran photographed at her home in Pittsburgh's North Side. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

I lived for 7 years on an international student visa in Pittsburgh. Living in Trump’s America is scary and uncertain.

PRESENTE Pittsburgh Latino Magazine co-published this essay translated to Spanish. Read the Spanish version here. Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. A couple of weeks ago all international students living in the United States learned that they would soon be required to leave the country. A rapid-fire succession of lawsuits and public outrage forced the Trump administration to back off from the order targeting international students whose universities moved classes online due to coronavirus concerns.

Nick and Eric Sinagra (left to right) in front of Nick's home in Whitehall. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Technological advances mean more possibilities for people with disabilities. I ground my work in making tech useful.

Since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act 30 years ago, technology has made tremendous advances that have significantly improved the lives of people with disabilities. The smartphone, a flourishing internet and now even autonomous vehicles are part of mainstream conversation. Technologies like these help people with disabilities, like my brother, Nick, do things every day that many of us take for granted.

Joseph Vernon Smith at his job bagging groceries at Giant Eagle in Crafton. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

It’s not easy being a Black man on the autism spectrum

Though the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities, there are still malevolent forces seeking to undermine the hard work activists have been doing for years to neutralize the venomous stigma of discrimination. We have a long way to go. Until then, I can tell you: It’s not easy being a Black man on the autism spectrum.