#Thanks to the ADA—Puerto Rico

Northeast ADA Center Staff July 27, 2020

As we approach the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, many people are celebrating how far we have come, as well as reflecting on how far we still have to go. The Northeast ADA Center is part of the ADA National Network. We have reached out to people in our region, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, to take part in the ADA National Networks, #ThanksToTheADA Campaign, to hear what they are thankful for, 30 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Here are some voices from our friends in Puerto Rico:

“The ADA has been significant in my life in the communication area through access to assistive technology, sight with access to screen reader programs and audiobooks, and hearing with accessible written communications. It has also been important to me in removing architectural barriers for handling wheelchairs on the streets, and in accessing airports for air travel, to be able to use oxygen and assistance during the journey to access to the airplane. In addition, thanks to the ADA I can have access to exercise my right to vote in an accessible way, to be able to choose possible people who recognize the needs of our population. I thank the ADA for making it easier for us to be considered when we claim any rights.” 
—Zaira Bonilla, PR Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Committee’s Member, San Juan, PR

Thanks to the ADA for making access for people with disabilities a civil right. As a blind woman with a Seeing Eye dog, the access affirmed by the ADA helps me participate fully in my community. It helps me and my guide dog travel independently, meet with colleagues, enjoy outings with friends and run my own errands. Thanks to the ADA I can live, work and enjoy my life with my Seeing Eye dog, constantly educating and inspiring other Puerto Ricans about the importance of inclusion. Finally, I Sofia Pantel del Cueto am grateful to the ADA for being able to study what I wanted, work where I desired, live where I chose, none of which would have been possible for me thirty years ago, when these rights did not exist. Thanks to the ADA, I have been able dedicate my life to helping others with disabilities in Puerto Rico by starting my own nonprofit, Abre Tus Ojos, and being part of the boards of Independent Living Centers, State Council on IL, and gender rights groups.” 
—Sofia Pantel del Cueto

“The ADA law reinforces my pride in being part of the community of people with disabilities.” 
—NC, Puerto Rico

Thanks to the ADA I had reasonable accommodations in my work, including assistive technology such as: computer, scanner, recorder, and screen reader program for blind persons. Also, I had an assistant to help me read what the screen reader and other programs could not read. Thanks to these reasonable accommodations I was able to compete fairly with coworkers without disabilities, and I proved to be among the best as Rehabilitation Counselor, having 400 assigned cases of which 300 were active. More cases than many of the colleagues without disabilities had. Thanks to the ADA there was justice for me. 
—Javier Ramos-Crespo, Retired Rehabilitation Counselor, San Juan, PR

“The ADA law, helps to protect our constitutional rights, such as: health services, education, employment, housing, among others. In addition to decision-making and equality so that our rights are not violated in all parts of our lives. Without the ADA, there would be unfair or unequal treatment for a person with a disability.” 
—IS, Puerto Rico

“I acquired a respiratory disability, in which I was diagnosed with total voice loss. Thanks to the ADA section 501, I have benefited from nondiscrimination in employment. After explaining the situation, I was going through to my supervisor my employer made the necessary accommodations so I can continue carrying out the work. They guaranteed that I was not faced with chemicals or high contaminants that exacerbate my health. In the absence of the ADA Law, the chances of losing the job were high because in my job my voice is my main tool. The employer looked for alternatives, among which were learning language signs, the use of technology, among others. Now I am able to continue exercising my functions and to be able to communicate with others.” 
—RS, Puerto Rico

“Today we celebrate, with pride, being part of the ADA Law Anniversary. Which protects me before I knew that I would have a visual impairment in my youth stage. Thanking those who made their voice felt with power, achieving changes for greater inclusion in our society and integrating into it without having known me.”  
—WF, Puerto Rico