Today’s Disability Day was a pretty awesome event. The morning kicked off with getting to meet people from all over the state who came in to be heard and support disability rights. This was my second year attending the event and it certainly won’t be my last. Getting together with the disability community leaves me with a sense of empowerment. Seeing people with physical, sensory, developmental and various other disabilities coming together is fantastic. Oftentimes people with disabilities can be segregated, either in institutions, or in our own communities. The blind community, of which I am a part, can sometimes feel a bit separate.
This event, much like disABILITY LINK, is cross disability. We all come together to tackle the issues that we have in common: unacceptably long waiting lists, the need for home and community based services, transportation, employment, and many others. We may not share a common disability, but we all share a common struggle. We are an underserved and under appreciated segment of society. As Mark Periello stated, we are the only group in America forced to leave out the back door and this is seen as acceptable. We need to come together more often to achieve our goals. With an election year coming up we especially need to come together as an organized to let our elected (or those that hope to be elected) officials know what issues are important to us.
At disABILITY LINK we are organizing an effort to get people with disabilities educated about their elected officials and those that will be on the ballot. We want them to have information about important issues so they can decide who they want to represent them. Our advocacy theme for the year is “Nothing About Us Without Us!” Being locked away from society, being forced to take menial jobs with subminimum wages, these are not things that we chose, these were decisions that were made for us not by us.
Participating in Disability Day reminds me of how unique our community is and how far we have come as well as how far we need to go. Hopefully, we can come together, be heard and enact some change for the better of our community.