Nearly every person experiences disability at some point in life, or knows someone with a disability. For many of us, living with a disability is deeply personal and intrinsic to who we are, but it also can be isolating.
I’ve experienced this myself; five years ago I learned I have Crohn’s disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease.
Nearly every aspect of my life has been changed by my illness. I have to think about everything I eat or drink, weighing the potential risks to my scarred intestinal tract.
I have to plan for numerous doctors’ appointments and the potential side effects of taking immune-suppressing medications: chemo pills every Thursday; a Stelara injection once a month. Exhaustion and discomfort are regular occurrences.
Each time I make a new friend or meet a potential romantic partner, I have to explain my illness again. I worry these people will think less of me when I have to cancel plans — or that they might think I’m more trouble than I’m worth.
Over the years, I’ve learned about my rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and how people like me are protected from discrimination in employment, housing and a number of other facets of life. I’ve also learned how the A.D.A. has helped define a community, one that is vibrant and creative, filled with passionate and diverse individuals who are defining themselves and their world.
This year, on the 30th anniversary of the A.D.A., The New York Times is starting a new iteration of Your Lead, our reader-powered reporting series, to inspire conversations and further reporting about disability and accessibility in the United States.
This is your opportunity to help shape and inform our reporting by sharing your questions and experiences.
We are especially interested in hearing from other people with disabilities or individuals with chronic illnesses. How do you share your story with friends, colleagues or strangers? What words do you use to describe your disability and what words would you educate others to stop using?
As we continue this reporting, we are also thinking about the ways you prefer to consume news and information.
Using the form below, tell us what you’re wondering about, what topics related to disability and accessibility you want us to dig into and why you want to know. Our reporters and editors will read your submissions and choose a selection to pursue. If you’re up for it, they may even invite you to participate in the reporting process, drawing on your experiences and expertise.
If you prefer to submit your question via email, please send it to [email protected].