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"This play is offered free to any group which wants to produce it," says playwright HolLynn D'Lil, "in the hopes that it will provide an entertaining and fun way for participants and audience to become more educated about the Americans with Disabilities Act and how the Act is being reduced by decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court."

Hello/Goodbye Ada Who?
A Play in One Act

By HolLynn D'Lil

set design for
Set design by Patrick Connally for world premiere July 26th in Sacramento. Click for larger image

What seems to be happening, as time goes on and we have the actual effrontery to ask that our civil rights laws be enforced and respected, is that the obligatory social veneer of goodwill toward people with disabilities is wearing away and revealing the unexamined prejudices against us where fear and loathing rule.

Now is the time, more than any other time in the past, when we must firmly believe in ourselves, our worth and entitlement to equality. And we must put those beliefs to work to defend what we waited for so long, and are so quickly losing.

One way to do that is to make sure that we all understand what the ADA is about and how much it is threatened.

--- HolLynn D'Lil

Narrator (N) Bud Hope
Supreme Court Five (SC5): Rehnquist, O'Connor, Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas
Supreme Court Four (SC4): Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg and Stevens
Clink Beastlog (Beast)
Ms. Goody (Ms. G) -- has to be able bodied
Crip Chorus (CC): (Dressed in professional clothing that can be removed and wearing rags underneath):
  CCa -- Obvious disability, needs paratransit
  CCb -- Obvious disability, cane user
  CCc -- Hearing Impaired with interpreter
  CCd -- Obvious disability of black community
  CCe -- Speech disability
  CCf -- Wheelchair user
  CC1 -- No obvious disability except wears glasses, wears pilot's uniform
  CC2 -- No obvious disability
  CC3 -- No obvious disability except has arm in a sling
  CC4 -- Female with no obvious disability in Nurse's Cap
  CC5 -- Obvious disability
  CC6: -- Obvious disability

PROPS: Paper chains: enough for each member of chorus; professional accessories and clothing: cell phones, briefcases, calculators, laptops, nurse's hat, stethoscope, neckties, suit jackets, hard hat, grocer's apron, protective gloves, goggles, UPS uniform, pilot's uniform , any other items representing work professions; voter registration cards -- enough for the expected audience; flyers with lists of disability advocacy organizations; large bag labeled "disability rights disposal bag"; pictures of SC5 on one cardboard sign held with stick or able to be hung around the neck; pictures of SC4 on one cardboard sign held with stick or able to be hung around the neck; a sign labeled "Supreme Court", to be hung in front of a table behind which SC4 and SC5 sit; the names of the all nine Justices to be placed on the table and grouped per 5 & 4, large enough to be readable from the audience; clouds to float around bottom of SC table; 1 pair large scissors and one large "book" labeled "CONSTITUTION"; glue pot; large foam hand on a stick; American flag (if tradition is to be honored, the flag should be attached to a white cane with urinary leg bag straps); large toothbrush; document labeled "THE ADA."

STAGING: SC5 and SC4 on stage left. SC5 is making papers dolls of the Constitution book and SC4 is trying to glue the pieces back together. CC is on stage right, nicely dressed for work, with work paraphernalia beside them. They have paper chains wrapped around them. The stage should have a ramp into the audience that is easily accessed by the actors.

Ms. G: (Enters, carrying a lap blanket, preferably baby blue.) Ooooooh, little cripples! (To audience:) I just love the handicapped, don't you? They're so noble in their suffering.
(Goes to CC member and tries to tuck lap blanket around them. CC member pushes it off. She goes to next member, undaunted. During play, she is constantly hovering around the CC, "helping them", straightening their clothing, handing them things, being generally overly solicitous.)

N: (N enters, cheering, waving the American flag, holding THE ADA document and generally celebrating. N goes to center stage.) Freedom! Equality! For EVERYONE! 1990 is the start of a new era -- where no one is ever to be denied the golden opportunities of this country again! Today, July 26th, President George Bush Sr. signed the Americans with Disabilities Act! (Turns to the CC.) We're going to call this law the ADA! And it's going to be the best thing this country ever did for all citizens! Now, everyone has civil rights! No longer can you be barred from employment opportunities or from participating in your communities! You want to go to the movies? You can go! You want to call someone on your TTY, you can! We have speech to speech available to anyone with a speech impairment. Communication opportunities are truly for everyone now! This country is your country, too! (Turns to Audience.) And this law is for everyone! No one can barred from employment because they have a history of a disability or are considered disabled for any reason!

Ms. G: Oh, how nice! You have your own little law now.

CC: (The CC take off their paper chains and begin to put on their ties and pick up the work paraphernalia, checking their watches as if going to work.) (Possible song here, if actors willing.)

N: (Approaches CCa.) You, sir. What does the ADA mean to you?

CCa: It means I can get around! I'm entitled to use public transportation just like everyone else!

N: Isn't that terrific? It's been a long time coming, but at last we have opportunities in transportation!

Ms. G: Isn't that nice! You can get a ride to the doctor now.

N: (Approaches CCb.) And you, madam. What does getting your civil rights mean to you?

CCb: It means I can get a job, now! They can't discriminate against me because I need to use a wheelchair sometimes. (Picks up her laptop and starts typing.)

Ms. G: Oh my, aren't you clever! Look at you, working at a big computer like that. You are such an inspiration!

N: (to CC): Well, good luck! (To audience): Employment discrimination is no longer allowed, but it may take a while for all the architectural and service barriers to come down. (to CC):But you have to be able to get in the building, before you can go to work in the building, right? (CC agrees.) Let's see. It says here (reading from document labeled "THE ADA") that states and local governments have to make sure that people can have access to their programs and services in an equitable way or must remove all their architectural barriers to their buildings by January of 1995. But public accommodations have to start removing their barriers right away! (Approaches CCc.) What will this mean to you when these barriers come down?

CCc: (Through interpreter) Well, for one thing, I will be able to talk to my doctor. I will be able to attend professional classes, also!

N: How reasonable. We should have passed the ADA a long time ago!

Ms G: It's so cute how they talk with their hands like that.

N: You know, this all just seems so reasonable! The laws that prohibit discrimination against women and people of minorities were passed decades ago. It's taken a long time to recognize that discrimination against people with disabilities is wrong, too. (Approaches CCd.) What do you say? Seems like this has been too long coming, don't you think?

CCd: You got that right. I have experienced more discrimination because of my disability than because of the color of my skin.

N: I wonder why that is. Even people of minorities discriminate against people with disabilities. You'd think they'd know, if anybody does, that we're all the same inside this skin, all just human beings trying to make it through.

CCd: I think it's because they think disability is equivalent to inferiority. Black people and women had to prove they weren't disabled and inferior, weren't weak in body or mind and deserved to be able to vote and have equality of opportunity. If they identify with us, they're afraid they'd be identifying with the myths and stereotypes that kept them back all those years.

N: Man, you said a mouthful. Some people just don't get it. But they have to, now! It's the law! (Approaches CCe.) And you, sir? What does the ADA mean to you?

CCe: (with re-voicer.) It means that the right to communicate has also been recognized. Though we have a long way to go in implementation, there are people who can "re-voice" available to assist people with speech impairments in telecommunications and in face-to-face conversations!

N: (Approaches CCf) What does the ADA mean to you?

CCf: It means that I'll be able to go out to dinner and shopping and take classes and go wherever I need to go! Business will have to remove their barriers by building ramps and providing accessible parking and restrooms!

Ms. G: You mean they might actually have to build ramps? I don't know. . . . Seems like a lot of trouble. You could just stay home and watch television. Don't you like that? You don't want to go out, now do you? It's dangerous and people have to look at you. So much more comfy at home where you're safe. . . (Tries to wrap blanket around CCf's knees.) There, now.

N: Okay, then! We'll just wait a little bit and watch the barriers come down! (Looks at watch.) Why, it's 1993 and those barriers have to start coming down! Duck everybody! (N and CC duck. Nothing happens. Checks watch again.) Well, it's 1994. They have one more year. All those barriers will be coming down any minute now! Watch out! (N and CC duck. Nothing happens. N takes off watch. Shakes it. Holds it next to ear.) Well, it's 1996. All those barriers should have come down by now. Hmmmm. Surely state and local governments are taking this seriously. (Conversationally to SC:) After all, the ADA is like another federal law that was passed in 1973, specifically Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It required the removal of barriers that prevent people with disabilities from employment and services, too! (To audience): They pretty much ignored that law, but this is the second major federal law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities!

Beast: (Strolls on stage, posing with pen waiting for autograph rush, but looking disdainful and indifferent.).

N:(Looks around): It doesn't appear that much is happening. Well, you can relax. I guess it's going to take a little longer. (Sits down to rest. Looks at watch. Looks around. Talks to CC.) You see anything changing?

CC: (They all shake their heads, looking very disappointed.)

N: Let's see now. (Looks at watch.) It's 1999. . . . It's been nine years. I'll ask this man here if he knows anything. (Gets up and goes to Beast.) Excuse me, sir. My name's Bud Hope. Nice to meet you.

Beast: Don't bother me, punk.

Ms. G: Oh my. Is that. . . ? That's not. . . . Ooooooohhh, it is! It's Clink Beastlog!

N: I was wondering if you could tell me what's happening to the ADA?

Beast: The what?

N: The Americans with Disabilities Act. It's a law passed some years ago. It requires business people like you to remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in public accommodations, like your fine hotel here. Hey, aren't those new buildings there? I guess you made them fully accessible, didn't you?

Beast: Listen, punk! Nobody tells me what to do. I'll build my hotel any way I want it. You understand?

Ms. G: Oh! I don't think I can stand it! It's Clink Beastlog!

N: But, you're building a new building! There's lots of customers that won't be able to come to your hotel if it's not accessible. This new law says you have to build new buildings so everybody can use them . . . people in wheelchairs, or with crutches, people who are blind, people who are deaf. . . .

Beast: Let me see that! (Grabs THE ADA document.) Why, you little rat! Anyone could be covered by this law! (Throws ADA document back at N. Begins to back N across the stage menacingly.) And this even tells me I might have to hire some of those cripples! (To audience:) I mean, what do I do if I want to fire someone because I just don't like the way they look! Like ol' four eyes there. (Walks up to a CC wearing glasses.) What do you do? Fly planes? Yuk, yuk.

CC1: Yes sir, as a matter of fact, I have been flying jets for over 20 years now.

Beast: (Approaches Supreme Court) Your honors, I protest! My name is Clink Beastlog, and I am representing all the poor little business people like United Airlines. We have rights too! What if we don't want ol' four eyes over there flying our planes!

SC5: (Turns to CC1 with glasses) You may approach the bench.

CC1: (Hesitantly goes before SC5 and SC4.) Do I bow?

SC5: How many fingers am I holding up? (Holds up foam hand.)

CC1: Five.

SC5: Are you trying to say that United Airlines can't fire you because you are disabled?

Ms.G/ Beast: (In mime, she asks for his autograph and he provides it.)

CC1: Actually, I was thinking, your honors, that I should have the opportunity to prove that I can fly United's planes. They say I'm too disabled to do that, because I wear glasses. But I think I can prove I can. I'm just asking for a chance.

SC5: What makes you think you have the right to question United Airlines?

CC1: The new law, your honors! The Americans with Disabilities Act! It says you have to give a person a chance to show you what they can do, even if they are disabled!

SC5: Nonsense! You're not disabled! With those glasses you can see perfectly well! Therefore, Mr. Beastlog?. . . .

Beast: (Turns distractedly away from Ms. G.) Thank you, Your Honors! (Turns to CC1.) You're fired! Now get outa here! (CC1 returns dejectedly to the CC and removes professional pilot's uniform.) And you! (Turns to make sure that he still has Ms. G's attention and struts over to CC2.) You have fits and shake and walk funny if you don't take those pills, don't you?

CC2: Yes, but with my medication, that doesn't happen.

Beast: Yeah, but I don't like your kind. Make my day! Go away!

Ms. G: Isn't he wonderful?

CC2: (Appeals to SC.) But Your Honors. . . .

SC5: (Holds out foam hand to stop the CC3.) Don't even think about it.

CC2: (Returns to Crip Chorus dejectedly. Removes professional clothing.)

SC4: Excuse me! Excuse me, please! May I speak?

SC5: Very well. The minority report, please. (Begins to snore.)

SC4: "Since the purpose of the ADA is to dismantle employment barriers based on society's accumulated myths and fears, it is especially ironic to deny protection for persons with substantially limiting impairments that, when corrected, render them fully able and employable."

N: You mean the ADA is about recognizing that people with disabilities are discriminated against?

Ms. G: Oh silly. Nobody ever discriminates against the handicapped. They can't help it if they are disabled and can't do anything.

SC4: Congress enacted the ADA in part because people with disabilities are often the victims of "stereotypic assumptions," like people used to have about other minorities.

N (to SC4): You mean that the purpose of the ADA is to protect people from people who just don't like them because they are different? (To audience:) Then, the law protects a whole lot of people who should be given a chance even if they function differently, like with glasses or a TTY or a cane or with speech-to-speech or whatever!

SC4: Exactly!

SC5: (Yawns.) Are you through? Good. Next case!

Beast: Okay, your Honors, what about this guy here (or lady)? She says it hurts when she does this! (Raises his arm in an awkward manner.)

SC5: Then tell her not to do that! Yuk, yuk. Next case!

CC3: But, your Honors, I have to do that all day long everyday in my job! I'm just asking to be allowed to perform another job.

SC5: Let me guess. You're here under that new law, too. What is it? Ada somebody or something?

N: The ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, your Honors. It says that a person should be reassigned to another job if they become too disabled to do one job.

SC5: This is getting to be really annoying. Do you think we have nothing else to do? We have important matters to decide, like who's going to be the next president! We can't be bothered with all these little cases about little people and their little bitty problems! (Big sigh.) Okay. Here! (Thrusts a toothbrush at the plaintiff.) Can you brush your teeth?

CC3: (Takes the toothbrush with free hand.) Yes, your Honors. I think I can.

SC5: Ha! Gotcha! You lose! If you can brush your teeth, you're not disabled, now are you? And, if you're not disabled, Ada isn't for you! (Turns to audience.) And let this be a warning to all the rest of you out there! Don't be whining around about Ada this and Ada that in this court! We're on to your tricks now!

Ms. G: Oh, I think hygiene is so important, don't you? Especially for cripples. It's important to keep them clean.

CC3: But, I . . . .

Beast: (Grabs toothbrush away from CC3 and gives it to a member of the CC.)

SC5: Next case!

N: (Appeals to SC4.) Don't you have any say about this?

SC4: (Beckons N to come closer. Sotto voce to N:) I'm all for anything that makes my job easier. Having a little test like that will reduce the workload!

Beast: (to CC3) Now, beat it, punk! (CC3 returns to CC, removes nurse's cap.) Now, we're getting somewhere! (Menacing to all of CC.) Pretty soon we'll get rid of all of you hopeless incurables! But, don't get me wrong! I have nothing against you little cripples! (Takes foam hand and pats CC members on the head.)

CC: (Goofing off with the tooth brush and ducking hand. Ms G wants to help them brush their teeth.)

N: (Looks at watch.) It's the Year 2001. Poor Ada. . . . The Supremes are lopping off pieces of her right and left.

CC4: (Pushes away patting hand.) What about me? The University of Alabama fired me because I had breast cancer! Shouldn't the law protect me, too?

SC5: What? Let me get this straight. You are claiming you are disabled because you have breast cancer? I had breast cancer. Do I look disabled? Of course not! Because if I were disabled, I would be inferior, would I not? Am I inferior? Of course not! Besides, I have a job for life. They can't fire me, so who cares?

N: But, Your Honors! The ADA specifically says states cannot discriminate against people who have a history of a disability! This woman deserves to be compensated for the way the state treated her! They destroyed her career!

SC5: Compensation? She wants compensation? Only real people get compensation, not these cripples! They should be grateful they are allowed in here at all! Not only that, who says states discriminate against cripples anyway? We have taken a look at the documentation that Congress used to justify passage of this silly Ada law! Why, they simply failed to show that states have ever discriminated against cripples!

Beast: (Goes to CC with bag labeled Disability Rights Disposal Bag and begins to take away the professional paraphernalia, including clothing items. Ms. G helps. CC reluctantly releases the items. Beast and Ms. G put the paper chains back on them.)

SC4: On the contrary, "The congressionally appointed task force collected numerous specific examples, provided by persons with disabilities themselves, of adverse, disparate treatment by state officials."

SC5: Oh, you want to give the minority report? Very well. I needed a nap anyway. (Naps.)

SC4: The Congressional record reveals . . . "hundreds of instances of adverse treatment at the hands of state officials -- instances in which a person with a disability found it impossible to obtain a state job, to retain state employment, to use the public transportation that was readily available to others in order to get to work, or to obtain a public education, which is often a prerequisite to obtaining employment. State-imposed barriers also frequently made it difficult or impossible for people to vote, to enter a public building, to access important government services, such as calling for emergency assistance!"

SC5: Examples provided by the cripples themselves! Just their own little stories, anecdotal evidence that doesn't have any validity with this court whatsoever!

SC4: Read with a reasonably favorable eye, the record indicates that state governments subjected those with disabilities to seriously adverse, disparate treatment.

SC5: Are you saying I'm not reasonable?

SC4: What I'm saying is that you can't treat Congress like a lower court. The members of Congress are elected by the people! The court judges aren't! Under the 14th Amendment, Congress has the right and responsibility to insure that all citizens receive equal protection under the law! That's their job!

SC5: Oh really. You are so narrow-minded when it comes to the powers of this court! Need I remind you that we selected the last president? Very well, I'll get another opinion. Mr. Beastlog, do you think states have ever discriminated against cripples?

Beast: (Still busy collecting professional working items from CC and putting the chains on them.) Of course not, Your Honors.

Ms. G: Everybody likes cripples, Your Honors.

N: Your Honors, what about mass sterilizations? What about inaccessible voting booths? What about inaccessible courtrooms? What about. . .

SC5: Quiet! We have to protect the Constitution here! (Holds up a pair of scissors!) The Constitution doesn't say anything about cripples! Moreover, it's necessary to discriminate against them, when it's rational!

N: When it's rational?

SC5: Of course! If it will save the state money, it's rational! Now, where were those marble samples for my new office?

Ms. G: You know, the states could hire Latinos. They're good workers, and they work for practically nothing! Of course, you could always hire women. They've always worked for less. . . .

SC4: Says who?

SC5: Says me! And I've got 5 votes, and you've only got 4, and that means I win! This is a democracy, you know, when it's convenient for me, that is.

SC4: But the states are protected from having to go beyond any reasonable accommodation! "What is wrong with a remedy that, in response to unreasonable employer behavior, requires an employer to make accommodations that are reasonable?"

SC5: Oh, I am so tired of this discussion! If you can't see what the problem is here, I can! We simply cannot, will not let those creatures act like they are entitled to what real people are entitled to. Why, look at them! They are not like us, now are they? I t is so obvious that they are inferior. Haven't I told you that? Why, look at them! They have skin all over them! They have (shudder)blood running all though their bodies! They have, must I spell it out for you? They have livers! Therefore, this case is closed! Cripples are different; they are inferior, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. So, forget about this little Ada law.

SC4: (Takes a pill. Ms. G pats him on the head.)

N: So, that's it? We're going to lose civil rights for people with disabilities? (Turns to CC.) Is that what we're going to let happen?

CCb: Well, as I see it, we have two choices: We can do nothing, and lose our civil rights.

CC: (CC now dressed in rags and with chains bows heads and sits quietly with hands in lap.)

Ms. G: That's right. Be good little cripples, now.

CCb: Or, we can fight!

Beast: Hold it, punks. I got friends, see, big friends. We're going to write us a new law, make a few little adjustments to Ada. Ada, she's got a little too fat for her britches. She needs to lose a few pounds, know what I mean? We're going to make sure that she don't bother the poor little business men like me. We're going to trim her down to size.

Ms. G: Oooooh, Mr. Beastlog! You're so strong and brave!

Beast: (To audience:) Not that we have anything against the handicapped, but we're gonna make sure they stay in their place, where they're safe, you know. They can't go around thinking they're as good as anybody else.

CC: (Members of the CC tear off their chains and start advancing on the Beast, forcing him off the stage). Who do you think you are! We have rights, too! We demand our rights! We won't take it anymore! Equality now! Freedom now!

Beast: (He drops the Disability Rights Disposal Bag.) Stop that! Don't you know who I am? I'm going to get my big friends! Go away! Shoo! (The CC force him off the stage.)

Ms. G: Don't you pick on Mr. Beastlog! He's a star! (Follows Mr. Beastlog off the stage.)

CCc: Yes! We can fight for our rights! We can organize! We can demonstrate! We can get out the vote! (CC goes out into the audience to pass our voter registration cards and flyers with lists of disability advocacy organizations.)

SC5: What's that you're doing? Stop that! Stop that this instant! If people vote, we can't select the next President! Stop that! Stop that now! (SC5 chases CC out into the audience, trying to take back the voter registration cards.)

SC4: (Last one on stage.) Pul-lease don't leave me up here alone. Please! I can't take it anymore!

All: (Reassemble on stage. Sing song, if actors willing. Take bows. Go out into audience and hand out voter registration cards and informational flyers.)


The factual basis for the material presented derives from the author's and consultants' experiences and prejudices and is not to be considered in any way to be anything but the honest truth they way they see it. Those with different opinions can write their own play.

The events concerning the Crip Chorus member with glasses derive from SUTTON v. UNITED AIR LINES, INC. 000 U.S. 97-1943 (1999). The events concerning the Crip Chorus member with repetitive motion stress syndrome derive from TOYOTA MOTOR MFG., KY., INC. v. WILLIAMS 000 U.S. 00-1089 (2002). The events involving the woman with breast cancer derive from BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF UNIV. OF ALA. v. GARRETT 000 U.S. 99-1240 (2001)

You are invited you to go to the Findlaw website and view these decisions yourself, preferably on an empty stomach. Another source for information on the destruction of the ADA is ADAwatch. Information is also available at the National Council on Disabilities website at .http://www.ncd.gov

Posted June 11, 2003

HolLynn D'Lil has been a disability rights advocate for more than 25 years, and helped develop California's access standards. Her essay on the 1977 Sec. 504 demonstrations in 1977 in San Francisco is published in The Whole World is Watching, by the Berkeley Art Center. Her photographs of the 504 demonstration have been published on the National Public Radio website and in A Place at the Table (Oxford University Press, 2002).

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