MLB To Recognize 25th Anniversary Of Americans With Disabilities Act
Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The law has increased access to public buildings and worked to end workplace discrimination, but for some people, a stigma still exists. One man is hoping a simple Major League Baseball game will help.
Greg Smith is a person. He’s not a disability. And that simple idea is what he believes many people still have trouble understanding. He’s had muscular dystrophy his whole life, and lives in Mississippi.
“I was supposed to live to be about 15," Smith says. "I’m now 51. I have three children. They’re 18, 21 and 23.”
Smith has written a book about living a fulfilling life while having a debilitating disability. He uses a wheelchair and has difficulty using his arms. He also travels the country for speaking engagements and hosts a radio show. He says those living with a disability can be pigeon-holed.
“Whether it’s a paternalistic attitude, one of sympathy, one of pity. Whatever these antiquated attitudes are about us, need to go away," Smith says. "In order to make them go away, we need to create the vehicle discuss this and present it in the public.”
Smith has come up with a very simple way to bring attention to the people living with a disability, and not the disability itself. It’s a simple request of Major League Baseball.
“I’ve always been a sports fan and I’ve always watched sports on television, but never seen anybody with a disability that’s discernible in the candid shots that they show during the games in baseball," he says. "It’s always a slice of Americana, but never anyone with a disability.”
Smith contacted Major League Baseball, and they liked the idea of featuring people with disabilities during broadcasts on Sunday, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the ADA. While it sounds like a simple gesture, Smith says it’s great way to spread the idea of acceptance.
“You’ll start to see employment rates rise, you’ll start to see more relationships and families involving people with disabilities," he says. "You’ll start to see more people in the community independently rather than in institutions.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks are already on board and he hopes all 30 teams will be involved.
For more information about Greg Smith, visit http://www.thestrengthcoach.com.