5 Disability-Related Highlights from 2021

As the clock struck midnight on December 31st, 2020, we were all relieved to see 2021 come rolling in. We had all witnessed sickness and death, and had felt fear in a world like we had never seen before. Being in a wheelchair and immunocompromised seemed to make things seem even more uncertain. But we, along with everyone else, were all hopeful in getting the world back to somewhat normal for the upcoming year. Although at times 2021 still brought many struggles and this pandemic just doesn't know when to leave (it's basically that one family member who always overstays their welcome), there were some amazing happenings in the disability community that brought smiles to people with disabilities. Here are five of our top disability-related highlights from 2021.

Vaccines started rolling out

In early 2021, immunocompromised people were finally able to get the long-awaited vaccines to prevent the onset of COVID-19. This was such an emotional experience for me as I waited in line to receive my first shot. I remember having tears of joy streaming down my face as the nurse placed a Superman band-aid on my arm where the first shot was injected to fight the dreaded coronavirus. I smiled the whole drive home, as I am certain so many other immunocompromised people did after their first shot. Finally, I could see a tiny light at the end of the long, dark pandemic tunnel. And while we now have variants popping up all over the place, I am still tremendously grateful to have some protection and be able to enjoy time with vaccinated friends and family.

The Oscars stage was made wheelchair-accessible (for the first time ever)

For the first time in history, a ramp was placed at the stage for the night of the Oscars. The cast of Crip Camp anxiously waited to hear if their Oscar nomination status had changed to winners. And if it did, a ramp was in place to allow them to gain access to the stage and take the limelight. Unfortunately, Crip Camp did not win an Oscar, but for them and for all of us in the disability community, it was a huge milestone that Crip Camp was nominated for an Oscar. This not only showed us that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to, but it also showed the world that visibility and representation matter.

Tokyo Paralympics

After being postponed in 2020, the Paralympics were held this year in Tokyo. Seeing the Paralympians compete on national TV was an amazing experience. It is not often that we see ourselves represented in movies, TV shows, or commercials, so having that long of an airtime sure felt good.

Sunrise Medical started carrying Magic Mobility all-terrain wheelchairs

The Magic Mobility all-terrain power wheelchairs definitely put smiles on lots of wheelchair users' faces in 2021. Sunrise Medical saw the need for a chair that can easily roll over sand, through the woods, and also over rough terrain, and decided to offer these chairs as an extension of their ever-growing list of wonderful chairs in collaboration with Magic Mobility. I can honestly say that this chair was life-changing for me, as I was able to explore areas of my very own yard and neighborhood that I had not been able to see before, since I couldn't access them. I enjoyed a beach trip as well with the Magic Mobility Extreme X8 all-terrain wheelchair. Rolling up and down the beach in this awesome chair was definitely a highlight of 2021 for me.

The Air Carrier Access Amendments Act was introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin

Another wonderful thing that happened in our world earlier this year was that the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act was introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin. These expanded provisions prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals by an air carrier. It also requires the Department of Transportation to ensure that people with disabilities traveling by air are able to file complaints if they are discriminated against. This is a great step toward more inclusive air travel and if you'd like to show your support, sign here.

As 2021 comes to an end, it is only the beginning of many more possibilities and opportunities for the disability community. Even though our world is far from perfect, progress is becoming more prevalent as each year comes and goes. I can't wait to see what 2022 has in store. Happy New Year!

What were some of your highlights from 2021?

About the Author

Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

Cory Lee's ride is a Quickie Q700 M.

Date: 12/22/2021 12:00:00 AM

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