KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If you drove down Main Street in midtown Kansas City on Friday night, you no doubt noticed the free music festival, tents and a small fleet of food trucks.
The local nonprofit ‘The Whole Person’, which helps people living with disabilities lead independent lives, organized the July Jubilee Main Street Music Festival to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The free festival at 3710 Main St. continues Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to music, Mayor Sly James and several sports mascots will be on hand.
“It’s just like everything else. We can always have improvement, so this is just a way for us to raise awareness about those things and talk about those things,” said Terri Goddard with The Whole Person.
At this fourth annual July Jubilee in Kansas City, FOX4 asked several people at the bash, who are living with disabilities, the four ways we can all still improve when it comes to treating people with disabilities with more acceptance and equality.
“Right off the bat I would say transportation,” Michael Kowal said.
Kowal has no trouble taking the streetcar in his wheelchair from his home to places like the River Market. But other trips most of us would take for granted can present major challenges.
“From here, if I tried to get into Johnson County, to one block south, that be impossible,” Kowal said.
Encouraging more people to use "people-first" language is another area in need of improvement.
“Don’t refer to someone as a ‘disabled person’ or a ‘deaf person’ or ‘autistic person,'" Lea Klepees with The Whole Person said. “When really we should talk about people as a person first. So I’m a person with disability, not a disabled person.”
Phrases like “wheelchair-bound” and “the disabled” also continue to make people cringe when they hear it.
“’The disabled,” Susie Haake said with a measure of disgust. “I am not ‘the.' I’m a person first who happens to have a disability.”
Better awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities remains a concern, according the advocates we spoke to.
“People still think that people with disabilities are less than,” Goddard said. “And so it’s teaching people that they can be capable of giving people in society.”
“Sometimes I see people, and they’re shocked that I have two kids with me, and I’m out in the community,” Klepees said.
Finally, discrimination in hiring and workplace equality is another area where there is room for improvement.
“By law you have to provide accommodations,” Goddard said. “And accommodations generally cost the company money, so it can be a deterrent for employment. In the world in general there’s a lot of hate. There’s a lot of discrimination and disability is one of the biggest things people are discriminated against for.”