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Colorado Quarterly Magazine 

"Rewriting the Myths, Redefining the Realities"


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From the Foothills

The Last Laugh

In the early 80ís, Wade Blank and I made up a two-person panel for a session on accessible transportation at a transit conference in Denver. At the time, Wade was considered the way-radical director of Atlantis and was the founder of ADAPT and I was the executive director of Special Transit, a progressive paratransit system in Boulder County. Wadeís radical concept that all public transit buses be wheelchair accessible seemed to me to be a wonderful concept but hardly worth dreaming about because there was no way it would happen. It was too expensive, the big fixed route bus systems were adamantly opposed to it, and the disability community didnít have the power to see such an effort through. 

Ha. I am glad Wade and his renegade group of advocates had the last laugh on accessible buses. They didnít have the financial power that the big transit systems had, but they had a more important power Ė will power. Since those days, the ADA has been enacted and we are currently looking at the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act (see articles). Many opportunities for a fuller life for people with disabilities have been realized. There is still a long way to go, but the disability rights door is ajar and itís easier to dream of it fully open. 

Dreaming is the first step, and itís a big one. We owe those early dreamers a great debt. We will never go back, but how much farther will we go forward? Margaret Mead said, ďNever doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world, indeed itís the only thing that ever has.Ē Now is the time to join that small group and realize your dreams. Give the Statewide Independent Living Council a call (720-565-9199) and help with the reauthorization of the Rehab Act. Or, work with the Colorado Mobility Coalition for better transit across the state (303-444-8721). Try the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (303-839-1775) to work on a range of disability issues. We have our will, and thatís the most important power of all. Ha ha.

Margi Ness

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