How Freelancing and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Gave Me Normalcy

By Abbie B. Elliott

Happy 30th Anniversary, ADA!


As an American with a disability living in 2020, I celebrate the 30th Anniversary of George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division,” The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services.

Four years ago I found myself disabled, deeply affected by a concussion that would take me nine months to recover about 80 percent from. Had it been any other time in my life, I would definitely have lost my livelihood, my healthcare, and maybe my home. Fortunately, I had just started my own consulting business and now had the flexibility to get sick in a bin by my desk or take a nap in the middle of the day. I could schedule MRIs and physical therapy appointments between client office hours. 

Being a freelancer allowed me a bit of freedom, independence, and normalcy that I believe has helped me to heal. As I got to know others in the brain injury community, I learned that many of my differently-abled peers were either unemployed, living on unemployment, or freelancing. Like me, my freelancing peers enjoyed the flexibility they had to work around and with their disability. Unfortunately, even with the ADA in place, many weren’t fired for their disability on paper, but they knew the reason was how others misperceived their disability. 

Long live the ADA, a gig economy that gives us a (somewhat) even playing field with our fully-abled peers, and a broader future for flexible employment. 

Abbie B. Elliott

Written by Abbie B. Elliott

Abbie B. Elliott is a marketing-communications strategist and technologist who heads Abbie B. Elliott Communications. Learn more at http://www.abbiebelliott.com.

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