To mark the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Interagency Council of Carbon County held a brief presentation following its July meeting.

The presentation was conducted by Diane Morris Smaglik of the Anthracite Region Center for Independent Living.

Morris Smaglik brought a number of items with her which she uses regularly to help nondisabled persons experience first-hand what it is like to be impaired in some manner. One of the items is a simple board which has locks, door knobs, electrical outlets and a number of things a person would encounter daily.

The board is used to demonstrate what it is like to lack fine motor skills. The demonstration consists of wrapping a person's fist in plastic wrap and having them attempt to complete the tasks on the board.

Morris Smaglik has done this demonstration many times and is not surprised when adult subjects become frustrated and sometime angry when they cannot accomplish the task.

"A child of 10 can figure out how to open a hard candy, but the adult might not. Children think outside the box quicker while adults rely on learned behavior."

It is often harder for adults with newly-acquired disabilities to adjust.

"When a person acquires a disability, as opposed to being born with it, they often think of the disability as an end," says Morris Smaglik, "but generally it is a beginning of a new and different way of doing things."

Another of the demonstrations had to do with dyslexia and ADHD. According to Morris Smaglik these two disabilities are often present at the same time. By putting on the headphones and looking into the box, the nondisabled person experiences the difficulties and frustrations of trying to overcome the reading difficulties associated with dyslexia, while being distracted by even the smallest sounds located in the furthest corners of the room.

In addition to helping people better understand disabilities through these demonstrations, the Anthracite Region Center for Independent Living also frequently invites in speakers who are living with various disabilities. By doing so they have found that the audiences become much more comfortable and sensitive to the disabled population.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and took effect on July 26, 1992. The Act defines what constitutes a disabled individual and outlines the need for reasonable accommodations. The Act specifically addresses the need for reasonable accommodations in employment, the public services and public places and businesses.