The Andy Warhol Museum. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

A Pittsburgh disability advocate shares her list of access wins and losses

Alisa Grishman has experienced clear pathways and inclusive venues while navigating Pittsburgh in her wheelchair. But she’s also encountered sidewalks without curb cuts and with obstructions.

Though Pittsburgh has become more accessible to people with disabilities since the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] passed in 1990, parts of the city have presented challenges to Grishman’s mobility. The act requires existing buildings to remove accessibility barriers when easily done and minimally expensive, but it’s only enforceable through citizen complaints and lawsuits filed with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Alana Gibbs (left) and her sister Darah Thompson at Alana's full-service salon, Hair 2 Sole Beauty Studio in Bridgeville, Pa. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Podcast episode 5: Sisters walk together through mental, physical disabilities

A New York Fashion Week manicurist and salon owner finds herself with new professional challenges when she’s diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her sister has seen her own career and relationships derailed by bipolar disorder. The women walk together, and some days are better than others. They share their stories in this episode of ADA at 30: Accessibility in Pittsburgh.

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.

Dylan Kapit is a queer, trans, non-binary, autistic advocate and activist who is currently a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh. (Courtesy photo)

Academia’s narrow gates: People with disabilities should not be deterred from higher ed

Like many other systems in the United States, higher education is not designed for the majority of the population. It is not designed for people of color; it is not designed for low-income folks; and it is not designed for people with disabilities. Are there still ways to thrive in these systems as a student with a disability? Sure. But it isn’t easy. It almost always involves a fight. And it often requires that the disabled student advocate for their needs instead of getting help from the institution.

Puneet Kumar (right), and his late father, visit the largest Hindu temple in North America, Radha Madhav Dham in Driftwood, Texas, in January 2017. Kumar tries to make sense of his muscular dystrophy diagnosis in light of his Hindu family’s belief in Karma. (Courtesy photo)

Podcast episode 4: Three people with disabilities talk about how disability affected their faith

n this podcast, two men share their understanding of their physical disabilities and higher powers. And a woman talks about how bipolar disorder led to her being a confirmed atheist. They share their stories in this episode of ADA at 30: Accessibility in Pittsburgh. This is a companion podcast to adapittsburgh.com, a collaboration between PublicSource and Unabridged Press.

The ADA promised workplace accommodations, but not without a fight from disability activists. (Used by permission. © Tom Olin – Tom Olin Collection.)

Podcast episode 2: Pittsburgh lawyer shares how the ADA equips people with disabilities to fight for their rights

In this episode of ADA at 30: Accessibility in Pittsburgh, we’re joined by a lawyer who was 10 years into his legal career when the ADA was passed. It ushered in cases he pressed in labor and employment discrimination. Jay Hornack is now a Legal Committee member of Disability Rights Pennsylvania, a hearing officer for the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and adjunct professor of disability discrimination law at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Law.

Catherine Getchell and her guide dog in her backyard in Squirrel Hill. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

When will the Americans with Disabilities Act evolve to the digital age?

I was 9 years old when the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] was passed in July 1990. It did not have an immediate impact on my life because, as a totally blind child, I already had access to a ‘free and appropriate’ public K-12 education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was passed before the ADA, in 1973. But in 1998 when I went away to college, I counted on the ADA to allow me access to accommodations like exams in Braille and permission to have my brand-new guide dog come to class with me.